Gay rights activists are calling for the mayor of Vallejo, California, to be censured after he called gay people “sinful”.

Mayor Osby Davis was quoted by the New York Times as saying: “They’re [gay people] committing sin and that sin will keep them out of heaven. But you don’t hate the person. You hate the sin that they commit.”

Davis is a a devout Assemblies of God follower.

On Tuesday, he released a statement apologising for the comments.

He said: “I have worked hard to unite Vallejo and I will continue to do so. To those I have offended by my comments, I apologise. My words were taken out of context.

“I care for the entire community and my desire is to build consensus on our diversity. Let me be clear, I have and will stand against hatred, discrimination and divisiveness wherever they exist.”

Gay rights activists were not placated by the apology and have organised a rally outside the mayor’s offices on December 1st.

Charles Legalos, a former planning commissioner, told the Oakland Tribune: “His comments were completely out of line. They have no place coming from a city official.”

Davis won the 2007 mayoral election by two votes against former council official and out gay man Gary Cloutier.

Cloutier said he was repeatedly introduced as “a gay” and accused the council of being awash with anti-gay sentiment.