Movie actor John Travolta has hit back at a gay journalist’s assertion that Scientology advocates “curing” homosexuality.

Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, criticised Mr Travolta for playing the lead in a re-make of camp classic film Hairspray.

The original 1988 version starred a young Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad.

Drag queen Divine played her mother, Mrs Edna Turnblad, the role taken by Mr Travolva in the new movie, to be released this summer.

“Travolta, a prominent Scientologist, has no business for reprising an iconic gay role,” wrote Mr Naff.

“It’s well known that Scientology rejects gays and lesbians as members and even operates reparative therapy clinics to ‘cure’ homosexuality. Divine is spinning in his grave.”

Mr Travolta has responded to the criticism, claiming that Hairspray is not a gay movie.

He told The Scoop:

“There is nothing gay in this movie. I’m not playing a gay man.

“Scientology is not homophobic in any way. In fact it’s one of the more tolerant faiths. Anyone’s accepted.”

However, the Church of Scientology is known for its anti-gay stance.

L. Ron Hubbard, the religion’s founderm, wrote that gay people are “perverts”, “quite physically ill,” and “extremely dangerous to society.”

Scientologists claim that he later changed his view on the issue of homosexuality.

Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a large girl who dreams of dancing on the Corny Collins Show, a local television programme based on the real-life Buddy Dean Show in Baltimore, Maryland.

Once given a chance, despite her small height and large frame, she becomes an overnight celebrity.

She then launches a campaign to racially integrate the Corny Collins Show.