A leading Christian researcher has claimed that it is now harder to admit that you are a conservative evangelical Christian than it is to come out as gay.

Ryan T Anderson, a conservative author, made the startling claims whilst speaking at an LGBT business summit organised by The Atlantic, according to a report by The Christian Post.

Speaking to Mary Louise Kelly, Anderson said “What I see here is that if you are a conservative Evangelical at a major law firm or at an Ivy League university, you have a much harder time coming out of the closet as a conservative Evangelical than you do coming out as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

“That’s an empirical question but my experience at Princeton, and that was a decade ago, that it was much more of a contentious subject to say that you were opposed to same-sex marriage than to say that you were in favour of it.”

The claims came during a discussion on the necessity of a national non-discrimination act in response to many reports of Christian run businesses refusing to serve same-sex couples.

Anderson explained that he is opposed to such a measure, as he believes ‘the market’ will naturally provide other options for same-sex couples.

He explained that such legislation would potentially criminalise Christians for voicing their views on homosexuality and for refusing to provide various same-sex wedding related products to gay couples.

He stressed that he himself was opposed to anti-gay discrimination, but went on to say “What I would suggest, the protections here would be market competition.

“Already 89 percent of Fortune 500 companies have voluntarily enacted non-discrimination statutes on the basis of sexual orientation. This is working its way out on a voluntary basis.”

Previously Anderson has claimed that same-sex marriage is ‘based on a lie’, advocated for reparative therapy and has compared being gay to being an alcoholic according to GLAAD.

He has also authored a book that argues against same-sex marriage titled ‘Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.’

The author also works for The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that openly supports presidential candidate Ted Cruz and first came to prominence as the publishers of ‘The Mandate For Leadership’ report that heavily influenced Ronald Reagan.

There have been many reports of Christian run businesses in the US refusing to serve gay couples on the basis of their religion, including a bakery in Oregan who was fined $135,000 for refusing to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding back in 2013.