Ann Widdecombe, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, warned a Bournemouth church on Saturday that new equality laws could see Christians being sued.

Widdecombe, 62, appeared at a debate titled Christianity in Public Life at St Andrew’s Bournemouth United Reformed Church, the Bournemouth Daily Echo reports.

During a question and answer session, she said: “For the first time in this country we are being obliged as citizens to do things which are against our conscience.

“The other thing is that you can now have the police on your doorstep, but not for something that you have done, but for the views that you have expressed.”

The MP cited examples of Christian printers refusing to print gay Pride march leaflets and of a Christian couple questioned by police for asking to leave Christian leaflets in a council register office used for civil partnerships.

She was apparently referring to legislation contained in the Equality Bill and other laws around inciting homophobic hatred.

She said: “We have now blurred the line completely between stirring up hatred and stirring up violence and merely expressing an opinion.”

Widdecombe has previously voted very strongly against equal gay rights and government plans to allow unmarried and gay couples to adopt children.

In 2000, she said gay lifestyles did not have “equal validity” with heterosexual relationships. She later dismissed the first Conservative LGBT summit as “misguided”.