A Tory local election candidate has stood down from the party, after it was revealed he had retweeted a series of homophobic and anti-Muslim messages.

David Bishop, a candidate in Brentwood South, apologised after the Tweets came to light yesterday.

On April 13 he retweeted a message that read: “How CAN a gay guy keep a straight face?”

Another message read: “A lesbian kiss on @bbceastenders before the watershed… okay BBC diversity soldiers we get it, now stop trying so hard pathetic.”

On April 27, two days after he was selected as a Conservative candidate, he retweeted a message that Islam was “the religion of peace and rape”.

Bishop, who has since deleted his Twitter account, announced his resignation on the Brentwood & Ongar Conservatives website.

He wrote: “I unreservedly apologise for publishing inappropriate tweets and re-tweets and I am sorry for the real offence caused.

“I recognise that someone standing for public office should show leadership and seek to unite communities, not divide them. I hope the residents of Brentwood South can forgive my lack of judgement in time.

“I have let myself and my Party down and in order to avoid any further embarrassment, I have taken the decision to resign from the Conservative Party with immediate effect.

“I will not be asking anyone to vote for me on 22nd May.”

Louise McKinlay, the Brentwood Conservatives group leader, said Bishop’s views “have no place on our team”.

She added: “David’s decision to step down was the right thing to do and I am pleased the Party has backed this and accepted his resignation from the team and from the Party.”

UKIP candidate Harry Perry was suspended yesterday, after calling David Cameron a “gay loving nut case”, and claiming that “God hates gays”.