The British Association for Adoption and Fostering has come under fire for describing people who object to gay couples adopting as “retarded homophobes”.

The Daily Mail has attacked the BAAF for being “adoption Nazis”.

The “retarded homophobes” phrase was used in a pamphlet for potential gay and lesbian adoptive parents and also on the Bemyparent.org.uk website, although the word “retarded” has now been removed from the site.

Religious groups and disability campaigners have reacted angrily to the statement, calling it offensive.

Would-be gay adopters were told: “Most importantly, don’t worry about society.

“Children need good parents much more than retarded homophobes need an excuse to whinge, so don’t let your worries about society’s reaction hinder your desire and ability to give a child a loving caring home.”

Tory MP Julian Brazier, co-chairman of the all-party Commons group on adoption and fostering, said: “I work with BAAF all the time and I know how much they bring to adoption.

“I must say I am very sad that they should use this language about people who have an honest disagreement with them.”

Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute thinktank, commented: “Christians are tired of being marginalised.

“We don’t expect everyone to agree with us but organisations such as the BAAF should try to avoid this kind of language.”

The guide, titled BAAF’s Pink Guide to Adoption for Lesbians and Gay Men, was written by Nicola Hill, a charity worker and former Guardian journalist.

It was launched at a BAAF conference this week to celebrate the role of lesbian and gay carers.

The statement has offended both religious groups and disability campaigners, who have been discouraging use of the word “retarded” for years.

Learning disability charity Mencap called the use of the “highly offensive” term a “disgrace”.

Charity spokesman Ismail Kaji said: “There would quite rightly be outrage if a racist word was used in a pamphlet – so why is abhorrent disablist language so often overlooked?”

A spokeswoman from the BAAF said: “The use of the word ‘retarded’ is not appropriate and it is regrettable that we put that up there.

“It has now been removed from our website but we do still stand by the sentiments behind it. It is strong language but they are not our words, they are the words of the carer.

“It just reflects the strength of their feeling against the homophobia in society. This is how same-sex couples feel.”

She added that the wording of the book would remain unchanged.

Derek Munn, Stonewall’s director of public affairs, said: “Clearly, Stonewall would not endorse such unfortunate language and we would imagine BAAF will have something to say on the matter.

“However, Stonewall does welcome clear and helpful guidance for prospective lesbian and gay parents.

“In adoption and fostering, the needs of the child come first. But when a loving home is needed, same-sex couples should be treated on the basis of equality.”