A senior Tory councillor was suspended today after suggesting his party "may as well legalise marriage with animals" because Prime Minister David Cameron supports gay marriage.
Party chiefs immediately took action against James Malliff, who is a cabinet member of the Tory-controlled Wycombe District Council in Buckinghamshire in charge of big society and localism.
A party spokesman said: "These comments are completely unacceptable. Councillor Malliff's local party association has suspended him with immediate effect."
London's Evening Standard reported that Mr Malliff tweeted to former Conservative MP Paul Goodman, who had asked whether legalising gay marriage could lead to multiple Sharia marriages being made lawful.
Mr Malliff said: "There is no doubt the PM is wrong on this issue. We may as well legalise marriage with animals, crude I concede but no apology."
Another tweet on his feed read: "Great keynote address by David Cameron, not sure about legalising gay marriage though, what happened to sanctity of marriage #odd."
The tweets have since been removed.
In a statement to the Press Association, Mr Malliff admitted his comments were "ill-conceived and crude".
"I am deeply, deeply sorry for the offence I have caused," he said. "I was not intending to be offensive. It was much more a comment to try to establish where we draw the line on these things.
"My comment (on Twitter) was there is no doubt the PM has got this wrong and you may as well legalise marriage with animals.
"It sounds terrible now but it was not meant to be anti-gay. I am not anti-gay and I respect people's views on this issue.
"The comments were ill-conceived and crude but I want to know where we are going on this, it needs to be discussed."
Gay rights group Stonewall said: "We warmly welcome the decision of the Conservative Party to suspend Councillor Malliff.
"It's extraordinary in 2011 that he is prepared to insult so many of his council tax-payers in this way."
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