Ian Paisely Jr says he has “grown up” since condemning homosexuality in an interview four years ago but still strongly disagrees with it.

In 2007, the DUP MP said he was “repulsed” by homosexuality and that it “harm[s] society”.

Speaking to the House magazine, Mr Paisley did not apologise for the remarks but said: “I have huge respect for people no matter what their religious and social background.”

When asked about the comments, he said: “I think I have grown up since then. I have strong Christian beliefs and moral viewpoints, but you have to realise that while sin is black and white, life is a lot of grey.

“You have to be mature about these things. I can strongly disagree with those viewpoints, but the point is how you disagree.”

Mr Paisley, the son of pastor Ian Sr, also said that his father had told him not to enter politics. He added that he has “no desire” to lead the DUP.

He also commented on Peter Robinson, the DUP leader and husband of homophobic former MP Iris. Mr Robinson lost his seat in last year’s election.

Mr Paisley said: “It has been a salient lesson to our leader and it affects how he has conducted himself, how he performs, and how he sees himself.”

In the 2007 magazine interview, he said: “I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society.

“That doesn’t mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.”