UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has accused The Sun of misquoting him in comments about his views on homosexuality.
He was quoted as saying: “You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.”
Following widespread coverage of his comments, Mr Helmer issued a statement denouncing the paper.
He said: “I was deeply shocked today by today’s report, and editorial piece, in The Sun. It claimed that I had said ‘It’s fine to despise gay people’, that ‘being gay is a mental health issue’, and that I had suggested that ‘homophobia is OK’. None of these propositions is true, or remotely relates to my views.
“I was phoned (as I was driving, and concentrating, at least in part, on the traffic) by The Sun’s deputy political editor Steve Hawkes, who asked about my views on homosexuality.”
The MEP continued: “In the course of a short conversation, I simply made the point that people were entitled to their personal preferences. It is morally acceptable to prefer heterosexuality over homosexuality, or vice versa. Most of us prefer one or the other. So let’s look at The Sun’s claims:
“’It’s OK to despise gay people’: How the Sun gets from ‘It’s OK to have personal preferences’ to ‘It’s OK to despise gay people’, I’m not sure.
“’Being gay is a mental condition’. In about thirty seconds I was able to identify two blog posts in my extensive blog archive in which I make the point explicitly that homosexuality is not a disease.
“’Homophobia is OK’. As a technical linguistic point, I have questioned the use of the term ‘phobia’ in this context, since it has a specific meaning in psychiatry which does not (it seems to me) apply in this case. But I have also written very clearly (and in the same piece) that prejudice, hostility and violence against homosexuals are wrong, and totally unacceptable.”
He added: “UKIP supporters will recognise the principle at work here: the mainstream media are engaged in a feeding frenzy against UKIP, and are prepared to twist the facts to suit their agenda.”