Rick Santorum

Anti-gay Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been derided for telling a boy not to use a pink bowling ball.

At a campaign event at a bowling alley in Wisconsin on Wednesday, Santorum told a boy who reached for a pink bowling ball: “You’re not gonna use the pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera.”

He went on to add “Friends don’t let friends use pink balls.” The comments were tweeted by Reuters reporter Sam Youngman.

Santorum’s statements were slammed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBT rights group.

“This is another example of Rick Santorum intentionally making ignorant statements that have a real impact on LGBT people,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz.

“Whether he’s comparing our marriages to inanimate objects, saying our children would be better off with a parent in prison as opposed to two loving same-sex parents, or calling open military service a ‘tragic social experiment;’ he’s proven that he thinks LGBT people are second-class citizens not worthy of dignity or respect.

“In this case, he’s advancing tired gender norms by implying a boy should be ashamed or embarrassed to use a certain colour bowling ball.”

Santorum, who hopes to be selected as the Republican candidate for the upcoming U.S. presidential election, has made his opposition to same-sex marriage a key part of his campaign.

He considers homosexuality to be against “family values” and the antithesis of a healthy society and has even equated same-sex marriage with paedophilia and bestiality.

“Kids have enough to worry about,” added Sainz. “They don’t need Rick Santorum telling them that using a pink bowling ball is a bad thing.”

The incident occurred the day after HRC released previously confidential documents outlining a strategy by the anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to use race baiting and scare tactics as a means of attacking LGBT equality issues.

The documents reportedly revealed a direct link between Santorum and NOM and that he agreed to help the anti-LGBT organisation engage activists and fundraise for their anti-marriage causes.

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