In a comment piece for PinkNews.co.uk, Nicholas Dancer, a university student and member of UKIP says the party is not a bunch of “fruit cakes and loonies” and that Britain should leave the European Union if it wants to legalise equal marriage.

I have to say I feel incredibly welcome and accepted within UKIP, “fruit cakes and loonies” is the last thing I have found, I’m not saying there aren’t any colourful characters but this stereotype is completely false and indeed an incredibly small minority. There’s an eccentric in every group of people, that’s life, people shouldn’t label us like that. I’m genuinely upset and offended by the prime minister’s unwillingness to retract his childish bigoted comments, I hold him largely responsible for creating (or at least reinforcing) this false stereotype in the minds of the public. He should learn to behave with the dignity his office affords and not go round branding people “closet-racists” and “homophobes” etcetera, without a shred of credible evidence to back it up, he’s just plain wrong!

I have found that there is a surprisingly diverse range of people within UKIP and quite a wide spectrum of reasonable acceptable mainstream views. Yes you’ve got former Tories, you’ve got a lot of old Labour people and yes a surprising number of the disenfranchised that voted Lib Dem in 2010, of which I am one. The great thing is, despite this wide range of views, people are able to come together ‘under one tent’ and have sensible discussions about things, I’ve never seen anything like it actually. Sure it can get a little heated on occasion but the point is part of being in UKIP is that you respect everyone’s views. It’s important that this respect is at the heart of policy making because this is what holds the party together, having policies that accommodate both sides and don’t discriminate.

This point brings me on to the recent controversy with Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s candidate in the Croydon North by-election. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly disagree with what he said but if Winston wouldn’t want his children to go to a gay couple in the event of adoption or fostering, then I think he has every right. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t shocked and disappointed with his view, I was, for obvious reasons, my view is different. When I heard the comments, I was shocked because like I say, it’s just not the sort of thing your use to hearing within UKIP. I don’t take it personally though, I think people have got to stop being overly sensitive and just accept that not everyone sees the world in the way that you do.

The key point for me is that, provided people aren’t imposing their will upon others then we should just get over it. This is why I feel safe and protected within UKIP because UKIP are the only party (that I know of) that specifically protect against discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference, it’s in article 2.4 of their constitution, a legally binding document. The party is simply unable to have a discriminatory policy. To call UKIP ‘homophobic’ I find insulting and hurtful, it’s just not true, there is absolutely no basis for this suggestion.

As far as civil partnerships are concerned, I happen to agree with the party’s actions and policies. When the Labour government proposed and legislated for civil partnerships, UKIP whole heartedly supported it, stating that there is no reason why a same sex couple shouldn’t be allowed to have the same legal rights as a straight couple. We took this stance years ago but of course the mainstream media ignore things like this because it doesn’t fit the caricature they are trying to create.

What about going the whole hog, and advocate full blown gay marriage? If only things were that simple, I really wish they were. I personally have a serious moral problem with advocating something that gives rights to one group at the expense of taking rights away from another, especially for my own benefit. Like I say, I’m a libertarian, I don’t want to impose my will upon anyone. Some, will be thinking what on earth is this idiot talking about? Why is allowing gay people to call their union a ‘marriage’ taking rights from another group?

Unfortunately, some supporters of gay marriage have been quite militant in the way they go about things. There have actually been threats of legal challenges made against churches (and other religious venues) who choose not to perform gay marriages. They could seriously lose their licences to perform a marriage if we’re not careful. Now I’m not religious personally but I keep an open mind and respect others rights to have their religious views, that said people should be polite and respectful when expressing them. You know we can’t be the thought police, freedom of expression and freedom of religion are basic rights that we should respect. Well why is it not sufficient for parliament to be clear in their legislation that those with religious objections do not have to perform same-sex ceremonies?

Unfortunately, the UK is part of the European Union and is under the jurisdiction of both the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – they’re not the same thing but they are both compulsory elements of being part of the EU and that’s a simple legal fact, there’s no getting away from that. I cannot see any way that any such legal challenge to theses courts would be rejected, this sort of thing has happened time and time again.

The problem with the ECHR is that a lot of the articles when applied to a practical case simply contradict each other, so it becomes judge opinion-based. I’m sorry, but no one can suggest that these courts have not got form for doing things like this. Look at the ECHR ruling on women and car insurance, as of next year insurers can’t price discriminate on gender. Now whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is not relevant to this case, that’s a separate debate. The point is a very clear precedent has been set.

If the government acts before we leave the EU, the gay marriage lobby will be engaging in hypocrisy by fighting for their own rights at the expense of other people’s rights. I would urge the lobby to take a step back to look at the situation and think about the possible damage to the reputation of gay people. I agree with the desired situation of most of the gay marriage lobby: We just want to be able to call our union of love a marriage, not to hurt anyone else, not to take anything away from anyone! Sorry but leaving the EU is a pre-requisite to that desired outcome being possible.

Nicholas Dancer is a member of UKIP. The views expressed are his own and not of PinkNews.co.uk