The owner of a New Zealand gym franchise has apologised after including an article on soy turning children gay in his email newsletter.

Club Physical chief executive Paul Richards included a link to an article on the conservative World Net Daily website. He said he was “intrigued” by it and wanted to hear other opinions.

The article, by Jim Rutz, claimed that soy was full of estrogen and this was turning boys gay.

Rutz claimed: “Soy is feminising, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality.”

He added that homosexuality is “always deviant”.

Reader John Kingi said in an email sent to the media that he was “disgusted” to read the article and was planning to cancel his Club Physical membership.

Kingi said: “The mere idea that eating something ‘makes you gay’ is complete nonsense. Even worse, the article they are promoting in their newsletter goes on to describe homosexuality as ‘deviant’. The article makes numerous claims about evidence but contains no references.”

He added: “It’s totally disgusting for a business like Club Physical to be peddling homophobic rubbish like this. Club Physical claims to be ‘the place where you belong’. Evidently that belonging does not extend to gay people. “

Today, Richards told GayNZ.com he had hoped to drum up some rare feedback from the newsletter. He said he usually included a link to a health food article.

He said: “I have written this newsletter every week for over five years and there is hardly ever any feedback.

“I was on a tight deadline and in the back of my mind I realised it might provoke comment. I’m afraid I didn’t put enough thought into it.”

He added that despite his conservative Christian background, as highlighted on the Club Physical website, he had not heard of Jim Rutz before.