UKIP Scotland's top European election candidate is under fire after he said there was a "perception" that Glasgow City Council favours gays and lesbians.

David Coburn, who is openly gay, said the local authority should try to dispel this perception and added that equal marriage amounted to "rubbing people's noses in it".

Ukip, which is opposed to the European Union and immigration, has a chance of winning a Scottish seat in the Brussels parliament in May, but a civil war north of the Border is hampering its chances.

Lord Monckton was recently fired as the party's Scottish leader, a decision that triggered the resignations of chairman Mike Scott Hayward and regional organiser Peter Adams.

Coburn is the party's top list candidate for the upcoming poll, but the Glasgow-born businessman has becoming embroiled in a row over comments about minority communities.

The Sunday Herald revealed recently how Ukip Scotland's interim chairman, Misty Thackeray, said on a social networking site that Glasgow City Council was for "gays, catholics [and] communists".

Speaking to this newspaper, Coburn said Thackeray had "exaggerated a little for effect", but said the remarks had been taken "out of context".

He added: "I think he was making a sociological analysis."

On whether he believed the council disproportionately favours gay people, Coburn said he did not have this perception himself, but added: "I think there's that perception among older people … There's talk about it.

"It would be good if the council dispelled those perceptions."

On how the council handled issues such as gay rights, he said: "Ramming things down people's throats is not always the best thing to do."

Coburn said he supported civil partnerships but not equal marriage, which he felt was "rubbing people's noses in it".

SNP MEP Alyn Smith said: "The comments originally made by Misty Thackeray were utterly unacceptable and it is extremely disturbing that others in Ukip are trying to justify those intolerant attitudes.

"I am extremely proud of Scotland's decision to introduce equal marriage, a view shared by the majority of people across the country."

Matt Kerr, a Labour councillor in Glasgow, said: "These comments are narrow-minded and daft. Glasgow is a city where people can get on with life and be who they want to be. If Ukip has a problem with that they really need to get over it."