Lord Maginnis has described the Ulster Unionist Party’s decision to withdraw the party whip from the former MP as a ‘gross mistake’ and said he should ‘examine his position’.

The party leader, Mike Nesbitt, held a meeting with the cross-party peer after he appeared on BBC Radio Ulster and called homosexuality “unnatural and deviant” and a “rung on the ladder” to bestiality.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “I’m somebody with more determination than most. And if it is as I believe, that the party leader has made a gross mistake, then there will be an obligation on him to examine his position.”

But, he went on: “What effect or impact does this have on a non-elected member of the party who is a cross-bencher?

“It doesn’t affect me insofar as a somewhat inane gesture with no significance other than to demean me.”

The UUP said in a statement that “any public comment made by Lord Maginnis, in the media or elsewhere, should not be considered to represent the views” of the party.

It added that the party leader still “remains respectful of Lord Maginnis’s enormous contribution to the UUP, to Northern Ireland, and to the making of peace” and would continue to be “hopeful a resolution can be found to enable Lord Maginnis to again contribute to the party’s development”.

Mr Nesbitt held an extraordinary meeting with his fellow party-members on Sunday. After the meeting, the UUP released a statement, saying: ”The Ulster Unionist Party has long upheld a tradition of its members being able to express their views and vote accordingly on matters of personal conscience.”

The UUP leader holds that civil partnership provides the same benefits as marriage and therefore opposes marriage equality.