Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney has denied he is homophobic, but failed to clarify his own views on whether homosexuality is immoral.

Mr Romney is hoping to capture the nomination of the Republican party for President, but in the process he has hardened his position on gay rights.

In a short interview yesterday, he pointed out that he had appointed gay people to serve in his administration in Massachusetts.

Mr Romney has been a controversial figure in politics since publicly denouncing the legalisation of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts last year.

When same-sex marriage became law in May 2005, Romney invoked a 1913 law to prevent town clerks from issuing licenses to couples who do not reside in the state.

However, he once courted the gay community for their support in a 1994 campaign for the US Senate.

The issue of whether or not homosexuality is immoral has dogged the Democrat contenders for President.

Both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama dodged the question, only to later issue written statements saying they did not think homosexuality is immoral.

Mr Romney told AP yesterday:

“I don’t think that a person who’s running for a secular position as I am should talk about or engage in discussions of what they in their personal faith or their personal beliefs is immoral or not immoral.”

“I oppose discrimination against gay people,” he added.

“I am not anti-gay. I know there are some Republicans, or some people in the country who are looking for someone who is anti-gay and that’s not me.”

Much has been made of the former Governor’s religion. A poll in February found that only 72% of Americans would vote for a Mormon.

Mr Romney once worked as a missionary for the Church of Jesus and the Latter Day Saints in France.