US anti-gay groups have rushed to defend a Christian counselling service owned by Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her husband after a staff member was recorded trying to ‘cure’ a gay man.

The Bachmann family own Bachmann & Associates in Minnesota and Marcus Bachmann, who has called gays “barbarians”, runs the centre.

This week, ABC News obtained footage in which John Becker, from gay rights group Truth Wins Out, is told by a counsellor at the centre that he can be “totally free” of his “homosexual urges”.

The notoriously homophobic Family Research Council said it was not surprised that the centre tries to cure gay people.

Speaking on MSNBC, Peter Sprigg, from the group, said: “If this is indeed a Christian counselling centre then is should not be surprising that the counsellors help clients live their lives constituent with Christian values.”

Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, said in a statement: “We don’t mock the idea of leaving drug addiction or alcoholism with God’s help.

“Why is it acceptable to mock faith in God to overcome unwanted behaviours like homosexuality in their lives?”

Mrs Bachmann has not responded to calls for comment on whether her family’s centre regularly tries to ‘cure’ gay people.

Since entering the presidential race, she has refused to discuss her views on homosexuality, despite calling it “bondage” and “slavery” in the past.

This week, details emerged of a 2004 speech in which she called gays “part of Satan”.

Gay bloggers have poked fun at her husband, suggesting that he has a “gay voice” and may be in the closet.