A Scottish church minister has caused outrage by comparing homosexuality to paedophilia, polygamy and theft.

Speaking on a BBC Radio Scotland ‘Call Kaye’ discussion on Friday, the Reverend James Gracie, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), said being gay was a “lifestyle choice”.

He said: “If the homosexuals, and these people, want to be treated equally, then what about paedophiles? What about polygamy?”

Another guest, Tom French of the Equality Network, disagreed but Mr Gracie replied: “Even if you were to take that view, there are people who steal, people have tendencies for all sorts of things.”

Mr French, a policy coordinator for the Equality Network, said in a statement: “It is disappointing that the opponents of equal marriage are comparing loving same-sex couples to paedophiles, polygamists and thieves in an increasingly desperate effort to persuade the Scottish government to ditch their proposals to legalise same-sex marriage.

“Most people will be appalled by these comments.”

Speaking later to the Scotsman, Mr Gracie said: “I don’t think I need to apologise or clarify.
“But I have my view the same as a homosexual would have his view. I’m not homophobic. If I was to go down the street and saw a man say to a homosexual ‘you are a queer’, I would go into court and be a witness for him.

“If I’ve unnecessarily offended someone then I do apologise, but I’m not going to back off from holding my views.”

Following the radio show, he joined a demonstration against gay marriage outside the Scottish parliament, where protesters were warned by police that their leaflets were offensive.