A UKIP spokesman, who said gay people should not be allowed to adopt children and that it amounted to “abuse”, has been selected as a local candidate in Croydon and has dismissed accusations that the party is racist

Winston McKenzie unsuccessfully stood as UKIP’s candidate in the 2012 North Croydon parliamentary by-election, losing to the gay Labour candidate Steve Reed.

Mr McKenzie provoked uproar when he said placing children with gay couples was “unhealthy” after retweeting an article written by a National Front supporter who claimed there was “no such thing as homophobia”.

He told the Croydon Advertiser: “If you couldn’t look after your child and you had to put them up for adoption would you honestly want your child to be adopted by a gay couple?

“Would you seriously want that or a heterosexual family? Which would be more healthy for the child?

“A caring loving home is a heterosexual or single family. I don’t believe (a gay couple) is healthy for a child.”

When asked why, Mr McKenzie, UKIP’s spokesman for culture, media and sport, said that couples might raise the child to be gay.

“There are people out there who bring up their kids encouraging them to believe they are gay themselves,” he said.

Mr McKenzie, a former boxer and failed X-Factor hopeful, then went further in an interview to the Metro, equating same-sex adoption with “child abuse”.

He said: “I am having you adopted by two men who kiss regularly but don’t worry about it’ – that is abuse. It is a violation of a child’s human rights because that child has no opportunity to grow up under normal circumstances.”

Last night, Mr McKenzie, who is running as a UKIP council candidate in North Croydon, defended his party from accusations of racism.

A string of UKIP candidates have been exposed as harbouring racist views. Andre Lampitt, who featured in the party’s election broadcast, was suspended after saying Ed Miliband was “not a real Brit” and describing Islam as an “evil organisation”.

Another supporter said Lenny Henry, the comedian, should immigrate to a “black country”.

Speaking at a UKIP event for black and Asian candidates, Mr McKenzie was met with a standing ovation when he said he had challenged Nigel Farage for the leadership. He said: “What does that say about UKIP being racist, a black man running for the leadership? I’m black and I’m proud and I’ll shout it out loud.”

In 2005, he unsuccessfully auditioned for the X Factor and has previously been a member of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

On Thursday, former Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold condemned UKIP MEP Roger Helmer for his previous anti-gay remarks.