UKIP’s London Regional Chairman David Coburn has criticised the party’s candidate for the North Croydon By-election after he said gay couples adopting amounted to child abuse.

Winston McKenzie, the UK Independence Party’s culture spokesperson who shadows Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities Maria Miller, uttered the comments just hours after making several offensive remarks about the subject to the Croydon Advertiser.

“To say to a child, ‘I am having you adopted by two men who kiss regularly but don’t worry about it’ – that is abuse,” Mr McKenzie told the Metro newspaper.

“It is a violation of a child’s human rights because that child has no opportunity to grow up under normal circumstances.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, replied: “These 19th Century views are not acceptable in the 21st Century.”

In a statement released on Tuesday, UKIP’s David Coburn said: “Mr McKenzie absolutely does not speak for UKIP on the issues of gay marriage and gay adoption.

“UKIP’s stance on gay marriage is simple: we entirely, wholeheartedly support equal rights for couples regardless of their sexuality and we believe this has been achieved through the introduction of civil partnerships, which UKIP supported.”

On the issue of gay adoption, Mr Coburn went on to say: “UKIP is a libertarian party, we are categorically not against gay adoption; what we do have a problem with is that Catholic adoption agencies have been banned for opposing gay adoption. The only thing that matters is that the children receive a safe and loving home.”

Mr McKenzie’s comments come days after Rotherham Council removed three children from a South Yorkshire couple because of their membership of UKIP.