An Australian politician has denied that a ‘queen’ joke he made about a gay MP was homophobic.

Rob Johnson, who is the West Australian police minister, had been asked by openly gay opposition MP John Hyde about spending on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Mr Johnson said the question was irrelevant and added: “He is just really, really upset and jealous that we have got a true queen coming to WA.”

Opposition MPs responded angrily and the policing minister withdrew his remark minutes later, AAP reports.

Today, Mr Johnson said he had not been referring to Mr Hyde’s sexuality and claimed the joke referred to Oprah Winfrey visiting Perth instead of Queen Elizabeth.

“The only reason I withdrew the remark is because some members obviously misconstrued my comments and confused my reference to the royal Queen with another term,” he said.

Gay rights campaigner Kitty Hawkins said there would be “uproar” if a similar joke was made about a non-white MP.

“There was no cause for his comments, they were completely irrelevant and unrelated, it was just a spiteful pot-shot at John Hyde,” she told AAP.

Ms claimed Mr Johnson had made anti-gay remarks before. In 2001 he said that homosexuality was “not normal” and in the same year, he claimed that lesbians and gays were trying to “persuade young people to adopt their way of life”.