Anti-gay views are ‘entirely acceptable’ in UKIP, leadership candidate insists

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UKIP leadership candidate Jonathan Rees-Evans has insisted that it is “entirely acceptable” for a candidate for his party to compare gay people to Nazi stormtroopers.

The Brexit-backing UK Independence Party is holding its second leadership election of the year, following the resignations of Nigel Farage and short-lived leader Diane James.

During a leadership hustings on Iain Dale’s LBC show, one of the four candidates, Jonathan Rees-Evans brought up notoriously anti-gay UKIP candidate Alan Craig.

An avowed critic of LGBT rights, Alan Craig has attacked the “Nazi expansionist ambitions” of the “gay-rights storm troopers”, compared same-sex adoption to “child trafficking”, backed ‘gay cure’ events, likened gay people to child abusers, and claimed “all gay marriages are counterfeit”.

Rival leadership candidate Suzanne Evans was suspended from the party earlier this year after she called for Mr Craig to be banned from standing.

Mr Rees-Evans called for Ms Evans to retract her comment, saying he was “democratically elected” and “UKIP believes in freedom of conscience”, accusing her of “trashing” Mr Craig’s reputation.

Asked whether Mr Craig’s views were acceptable for a UKIP candidate, Mr Rees-Evans said: “It is entirely acceptable for a UKIP candidate to have any views that he likes.

“He’s not homophobic, what he’s saying is that the LGBT militant wing, not people who happen to be gay or lesbian, but people who go and protest against Christians’ rights, these people are militants.”

He added: “It’s interesting, because my campaign manager, who happens to identify himself as gay, would say pretty much the same thing. He very much opposes this militant attitude that a lot of the LGBT, you know…”

Dale cut in: “He identifies himself as gay? What does that even mean… was he not born gay?”

Mr Rees-Evans insisted: “I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. I haven’t got a clue.”

Asked if racist views would be accepted, Mr Rees-Evans continued: “I’d need you to define what you mean by racist.”

Dale hit back: “I think we all know what racist means, and if you really need that defined for you, I’m not sure you should be sitting in that chair.”

Suzanne Evans hit back: “Any candidate who expresses views that alienates a large section of our community is someone who needs to reconsider their commitment as a candidate. I will not tolerate racism, I will not tolerate homophobia, I will not tolerate discrimination.”

Peter Whittle, a leadership candidate who is openly gay, said: “I take exception to some of John’s remarks. It has to be made clear, your comments are not representative.”

Mr Rees-Evans is best known for claiming that a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse.

He made the claim in 2014, when he was read a quotation from former UKIP Oxford chair Dr Julia Gasper, who claimed homosexuals prefer sex with animals.

Mr Rees-Evans insisted: “Actually I’ve witnessed that. I was personally quite amazed.

“I’ve got a horse, it was in the fields, and a donkey came up – my horse is a stallion.

“A donkey came up which is male, and I’m afraid tried to rape my horse.

“My horse bit the side of the donkey, and I had to give my horse a slap to protect the donkey.”