UKIP MEP Diane James: Many voters will share Roger Helmer’s anti-gay views

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

UKIP MEP Diane James has dismissed criticism of fellow UKIP MEP Roger Helmer’s views about homosexuality, saying there are an “awful lot of people out there that share those views”.

Ms James made the remarks last night, ahead of the result of the Newark by-election.

Mr Helmer, UKIP’s parliamentary candidate, lost the election, coming second behind the victorious Conservative candidate Robert Jenrick.

When asked on the BBC’s This Week programme if Mr Helmer held views from a “bygone age”, she replied: “There’s an awful lot of people out there that share those views and he’s not ashamed of them, he’s given his explanation and I think the insult then is to an awful lot of voters, if you are then saying, just because he’s made a point – and others agree with that point – that it is something he should be criticised for.”

Asked by presenter Andrew Neil if she shared Mr Helmer’s views that the NHS should fund gay ‘cure’ therapy, Ms James replied: “I’m not actually sure he said that, Andrew, if you check absolutely accurately.”

Neil then read out a full quote of Mr Helmer’s remarks from The Daily Mail. Ms James said the accuracy of the quote had been “challenged” by UKIP’s press office.

However, Ms James refused to defend the MEP’s previous assertion that date rape victims should bear some responsibility for being assaulted

“Those are Mr Helmer’s views they are not my views Andrew,” Ms James said flatly.

Roger Helmer generated his first media storm last month, over his previous comments that the public should be able to dislike gay people in the same way as different types of tea.

Despite cross-party criticism, UKIP leader Nigel Farage repeatedly leapt to Mr Helmer’s defence.

Shortly before the polls opened in the European elections, Mr Farage said on Newsnight: “Can you name me a party that hasn’t got people … particularly over the age of 70 who were brought up at a time when they were taught at school this was wrong?”

Mr Helmer had sought to play down the comments, telling reporters his quoted remarks about “homosexual behaviour” being seen as “abnormal and undesirable” were made 12 years ago when he was a Conservative MEP.

However, he remained in the spotlight following the resurfacing of his controversial views about gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

On Monday, Mr Helmer launched a broadside at The Mail on Sunday, accusing the paper of publishing “deliberate and defamatory lies”.

He was quoted by The Mail of having suggested the NHS should offer “cures” for people who are gay.

The politician wrote the next day on his blog: “Let’s be clear: I have never said that homosexuality is ‘an illness’, or that it can be ‘cured’.

The East Midlands MEP previously tweeted in 2011: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?