A former Danish government minister as equated gays with the hermaphrodite ‘killer snails’ plaguing the country in an argument against gay marriage rights.

Homotropolis reports a comment made by Birthe Rønn Hornbech and recorded with some measure of incredulity by Danish minister of culture, Uffe Elbæk, on his Facebook page.

Ms Hornbech, who was Minister of Integration until 2011, had been speaking at a debate on marriage equality, laws for which the government has said it plans to enact this year.

According to the Danish-language transcript posted by Mr Elbæk, Ms Hornbech told the assembled that aside from the country’s “killer snails” and a few other species, the natural world was divided into male and female animals and this was “why the world still exists”.

As a result, she opposed equal marriage rights. The conclusion that gays and garden pests should be equally unable to marry because they do not have normal heterosexual relationships, has drawn condemnation from equal rights advocates and amateur malacologists alike.

Mr Elbæk, who is himself openly gay, advised his subscribers on Facebook they may want to read Ms Hornbech’s comments “one more time”.

She has reportedly declined to comment further but confirmed her statement was a “description of reality”.

The hermaphrodite Iberian snail has plagued Denmark for years but is known as the ‘killer snail’ for the way it has decimated vegetable patches, rather then the human population.

Homotropolis also drew PinkNews.co.uk’s attention to the Danish Stop Hate organisation, which released a statement about the incident.

In pointing out that the snails were hermaphrodites, not homosexuals, it added: “Birthe Rønn Hornbech is entitled to her very own, private opinions. But when a politician feels the need to equate snails with human beings in order to justify her politics, then it might be the right time to begin looking for another job – or open up an encyclopedia.”

Marriage is currently available only to straight couples in Denmark, but the government has pledged to implement equal marriage laws this year. Denmark’s current system of registered partnerships for gay couples was the first such system in the world when it was enacted in 1989. There is no legal recognition of relationships between snails.