A COUNCILLOR in Monmouthshire has been suspended after describing homosexuality as “unnatural, perverted, immoral and wrong”.

Former Monmouthshire county councillor Graham Down equated homosexuality to paedophilia in several emails sent to the authority’s chief executive, Paul Matthews.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales was alerted to the emails sent in February and October 2016, with the watchdog concluding that the complaint was justified.

Cllr Down, who represented Shirenewton between 2012 and 2017, appeared before a tribunal at Cwmbran Magistrates' Court on July 19.

A report from the Adjudication Panel for Wales says members came to a unanimous decision that Cllr Down’s comments were homophobic and a breach of the council’s code of conduct.

He has been suspended from his duties as a councillor for Mathern Community Council for two months.

On February 12 2016, Cllr Down described a rainbow flag – a symbol of LGBT rights– flown at County Hall as a “ridiculous multi-coloured rag”.

Another email sent later in the day read: “I am, and have been, always quite open that I agree with the teachings of just about every major world religion in that homosexuality is an immoral perversion to be condemned, not promoted.

“Indeed as a matter of straightforward logic I do not understand why a homosexual act is apparently acceptable but not a paedophile act. Both are unnatural and I struggle to see a difference of substance”.

Mr Matthews told the tribunal that he felt the comparison between homosexuality and paedophilia was “outrageous and abhorrent” but did not refer the comments to the ombudsman at the time.

Cllr Down described the emails as “private” and said he was offended that the council was “promoting homosexuality” through the hosting of LGBT-friendly events.

An email sent on October 1 read: “I see that MCC apparently had yet another LBGTQIYGVGI conference yesterday, although there’s still no sign of a similar conference for normal people.”

A follow-up email dated October 13 added: “Perhaps you would also be kind enough to let me know the difference in principle between flying the striped flag outside County Hall, even though that may offend some, and erecting a banner saying something like ‘homosexuality is perverted,’ which may offend others”.

A report said Cllr Down’s “strongly held views” had not changed and that it would be “against his conscience" to recant his comments.

Cllr Down also said that no-one had been personally offended, including Mr Matthews, by his comments.

“I had been acknowledged that there was not a single example or incident of poor treatment of anyone by Cllr Down,” the ombudsman's report said.

“He felt he was being expected to give up his faith and he would not do so.”

The tribunal recommended that Cllr Down use his two month suspension to seek code of conduct and equalities training through both Monmouthshire County Council and Mathernn Community Council.

Cllr Down has been contacted for comment.