Sarah Palin, the vice presidential candidate for John McCain, has claimed that she is “not going to judge Americans” based on their sexuality in a CBS News interview.

The hopeful candidate was being questioned by the programme’s Katie Couric on sexuality, contraception and abortion.

When asked about her views on homosexuality, Ms Palin said that she believed homosexuality to be a “choice”, and went on to say:

“I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships.”

She then stated that one of her “absolute best friends” is a lesbian, and continued:

“She is not my gay friend, she is one of my best friends who happens to have made a choice that isn’t a choice that I have made, but I’m not going to judge people.”

Ms Palin, who is also Governor of Alaska, was also asked about her position on abortion, including in extreme cases of pregnant and underage rape victims. She said:

“I am pro-life and I am unapologetic about my position there.

“I would counsel to choose life, I would like to see a culture of life.

“I’m saying that personally I would counsel that person to choose life despite horrific, horrific circumstances.”

Ms Palin said that she did not, however, feel that abortion should be an offence punishable with imprisonment.

Ms Palin has come under fire over her stance on gay rights since her selection as John McCain’s vice presidential candidate.

In September, it emerged that Ms Palin had been attending a church that advertised a conference that claimed to “cure” gays and lesbians.