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A newspaper advert taken out by Christian groups against the Sexual Orientation Regulations has been described as “ludicrous” and “deplorable” by gay campaigners.

Yesterday’s Times newspaper featured an advert from a group of Christian leaders calling themselves Coherent and Cohesive Voice, urging followers to write to Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly and equality minister Meg Munn to oppose the new equality laws and seek religious exemptions.

The advert claims that the legislation will “force” a bed and breakfast to supply a room to a transsexual and will make schools promote civil partnerships.

It claims the law, which is due to be implemented in Northern Ireland in the New Year and in April for the rest of the UK, is an “act against freedom of conscience.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay charity Stonewall, who led the campaign for the regulations, described the advert as “desperate”

He told PinkNews.co.uk: “I think it’s a sign of an increasing desperation that these individuals have had to resort to a string of lies.”

Mr Summerskill said the money paid for the advert would have been better spent on helping alleviate poverty and disease in Africa, “Most people who think they are Christian will know what that money will solve, and it’s not discriminating against gay people.”

Stonewall’s opposition to the advert was backed by Lord Chris Smith, the first openly gay MP.

The advert, which activists suspect was funded by former pop mogul turned ‘family values’ politician George Hargreaves, comes in the same week that religious leaders have spoken out against the government ‘imposing’ conditions on their faith.

It comes after the religious sect, Christian Voice, led a campaign against a Gay Police Association advert in the summer which linked homophobic attacks to religious beliefs.

The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, and the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, have both threatened that their churches will withdraw co-operation with the government in the provision of services such as night shelters and youth clubs

Reverend Richard Kirker, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said the material creates a negative picture of Christianity, “This is a deplorably distorted misrepresentation and yet another attempt to bring Christianity into disrepute and legitimise homophobia in a despicable way.”

Mr Kirker told PinkNews.co.uk that he believes former pop tycoon George Hargreaves, who launched gay icons such as Sinitta, is behind the advert.

He called on people to write to Ms Kelly and Ms Munn and urge the government to make sure the Northern Ireland proposals are applied to the rest of the UK.

The advert was also criticised by the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, secretary George Broadhead said: “This is a truly poisonous campaign by a large number of Christian organisations ranging from the fringes right to the mainstream. They are

seeking to rob gay people of their basic right to protection from unjust treatment.”

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