An official online forum for UKIP members has been used to vent “racist and homophobic” views by some of the party’s top members, including comparing homosexuality to bestiality and paedophilia.

A private members forum on the UKIP website had been used on several occasions to vent

In posts from top party members, such as Chairman of the Branch, Julia Gasper, who compared homosexuality to paedophilia and said that gay people preferred sex with animals.

The UK Independence Party has pledged to exploit divisions within the Conservative Party, stemming from the equal marriage debate, and have vowed to attempt to pick up votes lost by the Tories. The party has been seen to have been gearing up for the European elections next year.

In the online forum, UKIP members such as Dr Gasper, who previously said that PinkNews readers should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, branded the gay rights movement a “lunatics charter”.

She went on to claim that some gay people preferred sex with animals, and said: “As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the ­subject.”

When approached about the comments, which may mean her removal from the party, she said: “I’m not going to talk about them. It’s none of your business.”

Another high-profile UKIP member, Jan Zolyniak, posted: “The evidence is quite clear that the percentage of homosexuals who molest children is very high and cannot be dismissed.”

He later claimed his comments were for “research purposes”, and said: “I put those comments up on the website to get responses.”

Member, Douglas Denny, from Bognor Regis, said gay sex was “disgusting”.

He went on to say: “What irritates me is they [sic] way they and their leftie, neo-Commie followers seem to want to force the rest of us to consider them as normal.

“I just wish they would keep their ­homosexual nature and practices to ­themselves and stop trying to ram it down my throat telling me they are ‘normal’ when they are not.”

Labour Vice-Chairman, Michael Dugher called on UKIP party leader, Nigel Farage, to remove members guilty of making abusive comments.

He said: “There is absolutely no place for this kind of nasty racism and appalling homophobia in British politics. UKIP’s leadership should condemn this in the strongest terms.”

Mr Farage, said the party didn’t condone racism, that he would investigate and said out of the commenters mentioned, he had only heard of Dr Gasper.

He said: “I have never even heard of these people. Julia Gasper is the only one… We’ve had problems with her and her position in the Oxford branch is not ­acceptable and is being changed. Her war against homosexuals is unacceptable.”

Saying he would “look carefully” at remarks made on the forum before voicing his view, he said: “Catholic doctrine could be ­interpreted as homophobic. If a comment was aggressive towards a group of ­people, I would condemn it. If it’s ­people saying they are against gay marriage because they’re Christian, I’d be more ­tolerant.”

A report by the Mirror suggested that UKIP leaders did know about the comments, saying that UKIP General Secretary Jonathan Arnott banned a discussion on the site on gay issues, and that he wrote of his fears that someone “is going to screenshoot comments and send them to a newspaper”.

A spokesperson for UKIP said that the posts were protected by data protection law, and shouldn’t have been leaked to the media. The party said its website was moderated by a volunteer, that the posts were all taken down within 24 hours of going up, and that it lacked the resources to moderate the forum more quickly.

The forum has now been suspended, until the party can find a way to “maintain a level of public debate” in which offensive phrases are not used.

David Cameron previously referred to supporters of UKIP as “some pretty odd people,” as well as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.

Last week, a town Mayor from Cumbria apologised to a UK Independence Party member after describing the party as “racist and homophobic” on Twitter

Dr Julia Gasper, a UKIP Oxford city council candidate who claimed gays account for 3 percent of the population and half of child abuse, last year failed in her second bid to win public office.

UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) last week removed the chairman of its youth wing, Young Independence, in part due to his support for same-sex marriage. It has not however removed officials before for stating that gay couples adopting is “child abuse” or that people who read PinkNews should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Then, just days later, a UKIP Parliamentary candidate was forced to resign following his support for equal marriage.

In November, the UK Independence Party restated its opposition to equal marriage rights for gay couples.