Carrie Prejean, the Miss World contestant who criticised gay marriage, has defended topless photos of her taken as a teenager.

The beauty queen, who was crowned Miss California, said she did not believe in gay marriage when asked by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton at the final of the competition.

Prejan had been a favourite to win the contest but after proclaiming her beliefs that “a marriage should be between a man and a woman”, she became the first Miss USA contestant to be booed.

The topless photo was first leaked to TheDirty.com and is allegedly one of six which exist.

In a statement, the beauty queen said, “I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid website that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be.”

There has been speculation she may lose her Miss California crown over the photos, as rules state winners cannot appear in partially nude images.

Prejean has become the darling of the religious right for her comments and is the spokeswoman for the National Organization for Marriage, a group which recently released a video proclaiming the dangers of gay marriage.

The row led to Christian groups in the US demanding for the British ambassador to the country should be sent home after gay Tory MP Alan Duncan failed to apologise over a joke about murdering Miss California Carrie Prejean.

They have also called for President Barack Obama to temporarily sever diplomatic relations with Britain.