President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party is to expel an MP who said gay people held too much sway in France and downplayed the persecution of gays during the second world war.

The comments by Christian Vanneste unleashed an outpouring of criticism from left and right and embarrassed Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party just as the president announced he would seek a second term.

Vanneste, who is part of the influential hard-right wing of Sarkozy’s party, looks set to be ousted from the UMP and could lose his seat in parliament.

In a video broadcast on a French website, Vanneste said gays were “at the heart of power” in France, manipulating the media and making humankind “lose its dignity”.

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