Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips has provoked the wrath of Twitter by claiming that the government is backing efforts to “brainwash” children about homosexuality.

In a column today on plans to encourage teachers to be inclusive of LGBT people, Ms Phillips said they were an “abuse of childhood”, “the new McCarthyites” and part of a campaign to “destroy normal sexual behaviour”.

Ms Phillips also implied that homosexuality would become “mandatory”.

She wrote: “In geography, for example, [children] will be told to consider why homosexuals move from the ­countryside to cities. In maths, they will be taught ­statistics through census ­findings about the number of ­homosexuals in the population.

“In science, they will be directed to ­animal species such as emperor ­penguins and sea horses, where the male takes a lead role in raising its young.

“Alas, this gay curriculum is no laughing matter. Absurd as it sounds, this is but the latest attempt to brainwash children with propaganda under the ­camouflage of ­education. It is an abuse of childhood.

“And it’s all part of the ruthless campaign by the gay rights lobby to destroy the very ­concept of normal sexual behaviour.

“Not so long ago, an epic political battle raged over teaching children that ­homosexuality was normal. The fight over Section 28, as it became known, resulted in the repeal of the legal requirement on schools not to promote homosexuality.

“As the old joke has it, what was once impermissible first becomes tolerated and then becomes mandatory.”

Today, her name became a trending topic on Twitter as users reacted to the article.

It also inspired a Daily Mash spoof, titled ‘Poofter spat in my macaroni, claims angry old woman’.

Ms Phillips has argued in the past that the gay rights agenda undermines marriage and has called homosexuality a “lifestyle choice”.

In 2009, she spoke at gay networking event Village Drinks, debating lesbian MP Angela Eagle on free speech.

She argued: “Equality has become an Orwellian word. We are in grave danger of turning thought into crime.

“Is it wrong to criminalise the giving of offence; is it right to criminalise disapproval?”

Two years ago, Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir provoked a storm by implying that gay Boyzone star Stephen Gately had died as a result of homosexuality.

The star died from natural causes and 25,000 people complained to the Press Complaints Commission about her article.