ABC television has issued a rebuke to Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington for using the word faggot in public.

And in yet another twist, Washington has apologised for the second time for his use of the offensive word.

An online petition sent to bosses at ABC asked the network to fire Washington, and was signed by over 9,000 people.

Yesterday gay media watchdog GLAAD castigated the African-American star for using the word faggot when denying to the press that he has ever used the word to refer to co-star TR Knight.

Washington told reporters at the Golden Globes award ceremony on Monday that the homophobic incident, which was part of an on-set argument last October, never happened.

Knight responded to the Golden Globes comments by going on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to reiterate that Washington had called him a faggot.

The ABC network issued this statement yesterday.

“We have a long-standing policy to create and maintain respectful workplaces for all our employees.

“We dealt with the original situation in October last year, and thought the issue resolved.

“Therefore, we are greatly dismayed that Mr Washington chose to use such inappropriate language at the Golden Globes, that he himself deemed “unfortunate” in his previous public apology.

“We take this situation very seriously, and his actions are unacceptable and are being addressed.”

In October last year, Washington released a statement through his agent saying, “I sincerely regret my actions and the unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on set.”

The actor, who played a gay character in Spike Lee’s film Get On The Bus, apologised to the gay and lesbian community in a statement yesterday.

“I apologise to TR, my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance.

“By repeating the word Monday night, I marred what should have been a perfect night for everyone who works on Grey’s Anatomy. I can neither defend nor explain my behaviour.

“I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I’ve asked for help.

“I know the power of words, especially those that demean. I realise that, by using one filled with disrespect, I have hurt more than TR and my colleagues. With one word, I’ve hurt everyone who has struggled for the respect so many of us take for granted.”

Washington is to meet with gay activists.

Earlier in the week one of his co-stars also said he needed to think before he spoke.

“I’m going to be really honest right now, he needs to just not speak in public. Period,” Katherine Heigl told Access Hollywood at a Golden Globe after-party.