It started as a joke but has now become a farce after a Tory councillor was today suspended from an equality panel and has vowed to resign as a Conservative representative after joking that a modern day Noah’s Ark would have to admit gay animals.

David Clutterbuck a 72-year old Conservative councillor at Bournemouth Borough Council infuriated local political opponents this week after replying to an email about the bureaucracy that the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark would encounter nowadays.

He said, “I imagine now it would be illegal to only have animals of the opposite sex!”

The email accidentally reached all council staff and officials at the Liberal Democrat run council failed to see the funny side and suggested Mr Clutterbuck undergo equality training.

Under new leader David Cameron, the Conservative Party has aimed to show a more tolerant attitude towards the gay community, hours before down the road in Bournemouth at their annual conference, Mr Cameron praised civil partnerships.

Mr Clutterbuck’s comments appear to have caused embarrassment for the party so local councillors have suspended him from the Personnel Board, which deals with equality and diversity , and the Developing Communities and Tackling Crime Scrutiny and Review Panel, which deals with services affecting gays and lesbians.

The leader of the Conservatives in Bournemouth, Councillor Stephen MacLoughlin, told The Daily Mail that the comments were “unacceptable.”

He said: “I have spoken to Cllr Clutterbuck. He has not denied that he made certain public comments. His statements have caused offence, particularly in Bournemouth’s gay community.

“They are contrary to the council’s equality and diversity policies and are not consistent with the motion on dignity and respect proposed by Bournemouth’s Conservatives and approved by the council last month.

“His comments are unacceptable, especially from someone who deals with personnel and community issues.

The matter will be considered at the group’s next meeting.

Mr Clutterbuck refused to follow the Tory line and announced he would now sit at the council as an independent member.

He said he did not mean any offence towards homosexuals and insists he has nothing against gay people and says many have supported his remarks.