London mayor Boris Johnson has been criticised by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for attending a carol service hosted by a pastor who has opposed gay equality legislation.

Johnson is due to attend a carol service tonight with 1,000 people at Jesus House in Barnet, which will be hosted by Pastor Agu Irukwu.

Irukwu was one of seven clergymen who signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph in 2006 criticising the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

The letter said the laws would force churches to “accept and even promote” homosexuality, something that signatories claimed was an affront to Christian freedom.

Tatchell called Iruku a “divisive character” and said: “Boris should investigate the people who invite him before accepting their invitations.

“He should not attend this church, for the same reason that he should not attend a church where the pastor preaches against black or Jewish people or against equal rights for women or Muslims.”

A spokesman for Johnson said: “The mayor deplores homophobia and would never promote intolerance against any community. He is joining 1,000 people at Jesus House for an early celebration of Christmas.

“It is acknowledged for its positive service, particularly to the local population, and the mayor is one of a number of public figures that have visited.”

The spokesman added that Johnson has organised a carol service at Southwark Cathedral next week (December 15th) which includes the London Gay Men’s Chorus. Deputy mayor Richard Barnes will be representing him, as Johnson will be in Copenhagen for the climate change conference.