A UKIP councillor in East Sussex believes business owners should be allowed to refuse to serve women and gay people.

Donna Edmunds, a district councillor in Lewes and MEP candidate for the South East, made the remarks in an online forum.

She had been asked to state whether she supported the views of Oxfordshire Councillor David Silvester.

Mr Silvester was suspended and then expelled from the party after blaming the floods of December 2013 and early this year on David Cameron’s decision to legalise equal marriage.

Ms Edmunds said she disagrees with Mr Silvester’s views but added: “I believe that all business owners, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, should be allowed to withhold their services from whomever that choose whenever they choose.

“It’s their business. Why should they be forced to serve or sell to anyone?”

When asked by The Argus to clarify her remarks, she told the paper: “I’m a libertarian so I don’t think the state should have a role on who business owners serve.

“I wouldn’t refuse to serve gay people. I’m not saying their position is a correct one. I’m saying they should be free to make that choice themselves.”

Criticising the comments, Giles Goodall, Liberal Democrat MEP candidate for the South East, told PinkNews.co.uk: “Yet again UKIP have shown that they are the nasty party when it comes to rights for women and LGBT people.

“We now have less than three months to stop UKIP from winning the European elections. Liberal Democrats, as the party of in, will be leading that fight and standing up for an open, tolerant society.”

In 2011 Ms Edmunds was forced to stand down from her role as lead councillor for communications in Lewes after labelling a constituent a “village idiot” on Twitter.

Nigel Carter, chairman of Brighton and Hove UKIP, told The Argus that Ms Edmunds’ views did not represent the majority of those involved with UKIP.

Mr Carter stated that any action against her would be taken at a higher level in the party.