The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has urged TV network CNN not to use guests from the “anti-gay industry”.

Calling for supporters to sign a petition, GLAAD said: “For years, CNN has insisted on including the voices of the anti-gay industry whenever a topic that involves the LGBT community has come up.

“It’s time to speak up and tell CNN that this is unacceptable.”

The gay group cited a recent John King, USA segment as an example where Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council had been invited to discuss the military gay ban.

GLAAD said that it was “important for the media to take these groups on” but that figures like Mr Sprigg were being invited on air purely because they are anti-gay, rather than having any expertise or experience of the issues.

“CNN needs to stop elevating anti-gay opinions to the level of the actual experts who they should be talking to; people like scholars, historians, professionals, or folks with actual experience (not just animosity),” GLAAD said.

The group said that Mr Sprigg could reasonably be invited on a programme to discuss whether being heterosexual should be outlawed, as his “claim to fame” is arguing for the recriminalisation of homosexuality.

“CNN and the rest of the media are doing nothing but exposing their viewers to dangerous anti-gay rhetoric when they invite members of these anti-gay groups onto their programming. Starting in 2011, this needs to stop,” the gay group concluded.

In a statement CNN told Media Bistro: “CNN appreciates GLAAD’s concern for objective and fair reporting. CNN will continue to strive for the best bookings of experts who have opinions that reflect different points of view across the country.”

In the UK, the BBC came under fire this week for inviting anti-gay preacher Stephen Green to discuss Elton John’s surrogate baby on a news bulletin.

Mr Green, who believes that homosexuality is “wicked” and that the Bible says gays must be killed, is the leader of Christian Voice, a pressure group with a few hundred members.