The Roman Catholic Bishop of Motherwell has claimed that the “gay lobby” attends Holocaust memorials “to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution.”

The Right Reverend Joseph Devine was giving a lecture entitled Sectarianism and Secularism: Bugbears for the Catholic Church in Scotland on Tuesday night when he made his comments.

The bishop said there is a “giant conspiracy” going on and claimed he is taking on the forces of secularism.

“Like Mel Gibson, who said, ‘I’m going to pick a fight’, so am I,” he said, according to the Daily Record.

“The homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups.

“It is ever present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution.”

He criticised the decision to honour Sir Ian McKellen for his work for equality, pointing out that Oscar Wilde was jailed for homosexual offences.

He also took the opportunity to give advice to parents of gay children.

“This must be a nightmare moment for any parent,” he said.

“I would try to handle it with a degree of compassion.

“But I would not tolerate that kind of behaviour. I would not condemn but I would not tolerate it.”

Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men were held in concentration camps by the Nazis as members of an “anti-social group.”

Historians estimate that 60% of them died while incarcerated.

After the war gay men were not recognised as victims of the Holocaust and many were re-imprisoned by the authorities because of the sexuality.

They were denied the reparations and state pensions available to other groups.

Last year Bishop Devine said he would close the Roman Catholic adoption agencies rather than help same-sex couples to adopt children.

He also attempted to interfere in the democratic process by publicly withdrawing his backing from the Labour party in last year’s elections for the Scottish parliament.