Rick Santorum, the anti-gay Republican presidential candidate, claims there is a gay “jihad” against him.

The former Pennsylvania senator, who has attacked gay marriage and compared it to incest, was speaking on Friday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

According to The Hill, he said: “So the gay community said, ‘He’s comparing gay sex to incest and polygamy, how dare he do this,’ and they have gone out on a, I would argue, jihad against Rick Santorum since then.”

In 2003, Mr Santorum outraged gay rights campaigners when he compared homosexuality to incest and said people should not have a right to privacy with respect to sexual acts.

In an AP interview, he said: “[I have] a problem with homosexual acts, as I would with what I would consider to be acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships . . .

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery.”

In June, he used an appearance in Iowa to condemn gay marriage, claiming that gay rights campaigners were deliberately trying to undermine religion.