Wendy Francis, the Australian Family First candidate who tweeted that gay marriage was “emotional child abuse”, has issued a statement clarifying her remarks.

Ms Francis, a contender for the Queensland Senate, caused outrage at the weekend with a series of remarks on Twitter about gay marriage and parenting.

She claimed that children brought up by gay couples would suffer “uncontrollable depression and suicide” and told an interviewer that gay marriage was a “social experiment”.

Today, she posted a statement on her website apologising for any hurt caused but said she still believes that gay couples should not be allowed to marry or bring up children.

In the lengthy statement, Ms Francis also attacked the media for “distorting” her words. She claimed that headlines such as “anti-gay” and “homophobic” were sensational.

She claimed the tweets were made by her staff and were taken from a statement written by her office. She said that she had disagreed with the statement’s “inappropriate” wording and asked her office to change it but due to her schedule, the message was not relayed.

Ms Francis wrote: “I take responsibility for what was sent from my office and I acknowledge that the words used caused hurt and anguish for many people. For this I sincerely and unreservedly apologise.”

But she added: “I do not believe that upholding marriage or preventing children being raised in homosexual families is discrimination.

“We can’t govern Australia by legislation based on pleasing each group who wants things their way. I believe we must stand firm on principles and values that are the best for the good of the nation

She concluded by saying she wanted to “reach out” to the gay community to help them understand that “many Australians” feel the same way as she does and pledged to be the “voice of mainstream Australia”.

Yesterday, a lesbian mother lodged a discrimination complaint against Ms Francis with the Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commission.

Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne from the Australian Coalition for Equality said the would-be politician’s words felt like a personal attack on her family.

Ms Pilgrim-Byrne said: “I really want people like Wendy Francis in high-profile positions to think more carefully before they make outlandish statements that actually affect real people.”