The television presenter Lowri Turner has been publicly criticised by member’s of the Welsh Assembly’s equality committee in relation to a “homophobic” column she wrote for a Welsh newspaper.
During the height of the controversy surrounding the revelations that Liberal Democrat leadership contender Mark Oaten had engaged in a lengthy relationship with a rent-boy and that Simon Hughes, fellow candidate was bisexual, Ms Turner claimed that gay men would not make good political leaders.
In the column entitled, “However much I love my gay friends, I don’t want them running the country’, she said: “Frankly I don’t trust a man who says he swings both ways, unless he is a spotty teenager who hasn’t sorted himself out yet.
“Oaten is 41 and Hughes is 54. If they think they are old enough to run the country then surely they are old enough to work out which gender they fancy?”
Ms Turner once starred in ITV’s Celebrity Fit Club
“Those who claim to be bisexual are simply trying to fudge the truth,” she added.
Ms Turner claimed that gay men did not make good party leaders because they did not face the same challenges as those who had children, writing: “I have gay friends whose biggest headache is whether to have a black sofa or a cream one.”
In a letter to Western Mail, editor Alan Edmunds, assembly members called on Mr Edmunds to justify the publication of the column on 27th January.
Gwenda Thomas, chair of the assembly’s equality committee said: “Homophobia, together with all other forms of prejudice, is unacceptable in any modern, democratic, civilised society, and it is therefore disappointing to say the least that an article that promotes such attitudes appeared in a newspaper that purports to be ‘the national newspaper for Wales’.”
The letter called on Mr Edmunds to appear before assembly members to justify his actions: “If a newspaper through its columnist is willing to express a controversial opinion, its editor should surely be willing and available to be held to account for it.”
In a statement, Mr Edmunds said: “The view which caused concern was expressed not by the paper but by our columnist, Lowri Turner.
“Columnists are, by their nature, there to write challenging, often controversial things and, while their views are not necessarily the views of the paper or its editor, I stand by their right to express them.
“There was no intention to offend. We publish views and opinions every day with which some people will disagree.
“This is a democracy and it is not the role of the National Assembly to hold editors to account for the content of their newspapers. In my view that would be a dangerous and unhealthy precedent for Wales.”
Mr Edmunds said that the newspaper printed reaction to the column over the following week.
Ms Turner’s agent said she was unavailable for comment.