US conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh believes there is a movement to “normalise” paedophilia, a movement he says is similar to society’s growing acceptance of marriage rights for gay couples.

During the broadcast on Monday of his radio show, Limbaugh mentioned an article from the Guardian newspaper titled “Paedophilia: Bringing Dark Desires to Light.”

It discusses various lines of research on the behaviour of child abusers.

The journalist, John Henley, states: “There is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality.”

Mr Henley, whose article is based on the fall from grace of the late British entertainer Jimmy Savile, cites one researcher who says society may be wrong about the classification of paedophiles, but notes many who are against any such reclassification.

However, Rush Limbaugh responded to the article by saying it pointed to a “movement to normalise paedophilia” and likened such “normalisation” to the recent progress of equal marriage in the United States.

He said:

 “There is an effort underway to normalise paedophilia. Yep. And it has two aspects to it. One is that sex with children doesn’t hurt them. Kids like it, and so do adults, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It is something…I want to take you back. I want you to remember the first time, wherever you were, that you heard about gay marriage, and I want you to try to recall your reaction — your first gut reaction — when you heard that some activists or somebody was trying to promote the notion of gay marriage. What was your initial reaction?

‘Aw, come on. It’ll never happen. That’s silly. What are you talking about?’

“There is a movement on to normalise paedophilia, and I guarantee you your reaction to that is probably much the same as your reaction when you first heard about gay marriage. What has happened to gay marriage?

“It’s become normal — and in fact, with certain people in certain demographics it’s the most important issue in terms of who they vote for. So don’t pooh-pooh. There’s a movement to normalise paedophilia. Don’t pooh-pooh it. The people behind it are serious, and you know the left as well as I do. They glom onto something and they don’t let go.”

In 2011, Sir Elton John was criticised by gay rights groups for performing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding.