The leader of a minor political party in Australia has had to apologise for one of his candidates who tried to out an electoral rival.

In the Courier Mail newspaper, Family First candidate for the Leichhardt constituency in Queensland Ben Jacobsen said the voters had a right to know if his Liberal opponent Charlie McKillop is a lesbian.

“The voters might not give a rat’s if a candidate is gay, but they have a right to know who you’ll bat for,” said Mr Jacobsen.

Family First leader Senator Steve Fielding apologised.

“I have spoken to the candidate and told him that his comments were inappropriate and offensive,” he said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

“Mr Jacobsen has apologised to the Liberal candidate and, on behalf of the party, I also sincerely apologise for the hurt caused.”

Ms McKillop has made no comment.

Earlier this week Andrew Quah, 22, was dumped as a candidate by Family First after nude photos of him were discovered on gay websites.

Although he admitted that it was possible he had posed for two of the images, he claimed that a third had been digitally manipulated.

Quah, who was a candidate for the seat of Reid in Sydney, also confessed to downloading porn from the internet within the past two weeks.

In the run-up to the federal elections on 24th November, the scandal has been a huge setback for Family First, whose policies emphasise socially conservative family values, including a campaign against internet pornography.

Although officially secular, many of the party’s candidates come from conservative Christian backgrounds.

Founded in 2002, the party has had limited electoral success at federal level, and only has one member in the federal parliament, a Senator.

They have more representation at state level, and are opposed to a range of gay rights measures, such as same-sex marriage or civil unions and gay adoption.