Winston McKenzie, the UK Independence Party’s candidate for the Croydon North By-election and former X Factor hopeful, believes gay people should not be allowed to adopt children.

The Croydon Advertiser reports that Mr McKenzie said placing children with gay couples was “unhealthy” after retweeting an article written by a National Front supporter who claimed there was “no such thing as homophobia”.

During an interview with the paper, Mr McKenzie said: “If you couldn’t look after your child and you had to put them up for adoption would you honestly want your child to be adopted by a gay couple?

“Would you seriously want that or a heterosexual family? Which would be more healthy for the child?

“A caring loving home is a heterosexual or single family. I don’t believe (a gay couple) is healthy for a child.”

When asked why, Mr McKenzie, UKIP’s spokesman for culture, media and sport, said that couples might raise the child to be gay.

“There are people out there who bring up their kids encouraging them to believe they are gay themselves,” he said.

“If the child is properly heterosexual and they are put in foster homes without any thought or consideration of who they are or what their identity is, that’s not right.

“A child might be vehemently against being housed with a gay couple but you wouldn’t know until they were older. Placing them with that couple deceives the child.

“If there’s no alternative then maybe. If it’s a case of being adopted by a gay couple or deportation then what can do you? But if you ask me, I’m not for heterosexual children being adopted by gay couples.”

UKIP supports civil partnerships, but remains opposed to equal marriage.

On the subject, Mr McKenzie said:

“Gay marriage shouldn’t be in a place of worship. It’s not even something gays are particularly keen on.

“I’ve nothing against gays. I wouldn’t attack a man or a woman because of their sexuality. They have fought very hard for the rights I have seen come to the fore and that says a lot for some of them.

“But personally, as a deeply religious person, I don’t advocate gay marriage. For thousands of years we have had marriage between a man and a woman.

“To suddenly introduce gay marriage would be an insult to some gay people. I know a few gay people and they are really not bothered. They aren’t concerned. For most of the general public it’s not a big issue.”

Mr McKenzie, a youth worker, was born in Jamaica and is a former boxer.

In 2005, he unsuccessfully auditioned for the X Factor and has previously been a member of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

In September, UKIP’s National Executive Committee gave approval to an affiliated LGBT campaign section of the party.

Deputy chair and co-founder, Nathan Garbutt, said at the time: “UKIP has come under criticism in the past for the views of one or two outspoken members. The formal approval from the NEC of our existence goes to show that UKIP does not have any issue with LGBT people.”