A Catholic youth camp has been shut because one of its staff members is gay, according to former Iraq hostage James Loney.

Mr Loney, whose sexuality was kept secret by his boyfriend while he was being held captive in Iraq for four months between November 2005 and March 2006, claims the Ontario Catholic youth camp, which he worked for, was closed because he is gay.

He told a news conference that the decision was an act of discrimination against gays and lesbians, “We are doing this because we care about the church, we care about young people and we care about the kind of church they are coming into.

“This is the litmus test for us: we love God as much as the one we love the least, and that’s what we’ve been trying to be about, as a leadership camp.

“We want the teasing and the bullying and the harassment that comes with homophobia to stop. We want the teenage suicide and the self-loathing of the closet to stop. We want people to be able to speak freely about what they are and what they believe without fear.”

However, a spokesman for the Knights of Columbus Ontario State Council denied the claims.

The camp had been an annual event since 1991

Meanwhile Mr Loney and his partner received the Fearless Award at the Toronto Gay Pride yesterday.