Kevin Brennan, the new Minister for Children, told an audience of education professionals and activists in London today that homophobic language used on TV and radio is unacceptable.
Speaking at the Stonewall Education for All conference, the minister said that the perception that the use of words like ‘poof’ or ‘gay’ is ‘just a bit of harmless banter’ contributes to homophobic bullying in schools.
In a thinly veiled attack on Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, Mr Brennan said:
“Our objective is nothing less than a fully inclusive society. Where all minority groups are valued and respected, and every individual is able to simply be who they are.
“It’s clear that we aren’t there yet.
“Just one example is the casual use of homophobic language by mainstream radio DJs.
“This is too often seen as harmless banter instead of the offensive insult that it really represents.”
Last year Mr Moyles was named Bully of the Year at the Stonewall Awards.
Campaigners called for the DJ to be sacked after repeatedly using the word “gay” in a derogatory manner, most recently to describe a ringtone.
BBC governors backed the DJ saying the items “met the required editorial standards and did not demonstrate homophobia.”
The independent committee recognised Moyles’ comments may have caused offence, but said the use of the word “gay” to mean “lame” or “rubbish” was widespread amongst young people.
Mr Brennan said today that the government is committed to stamping out homophobia in schools, and that to ignore the problem was to collude in it.
“At the moment, those societal attitudes are too often reflected in schools.
“Stonewall’s recent publication, the ‘School Report’ brought some truly shocking statistics to national attention,” he said.
The minister said that homophobic abuse must become as taboo as racism, and cited the recent furore over the treatment of Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother as a sign of progress.
He said that our entire society must learn to reject homophobia as it has racism, and that schools were the right place to start.
His comments come as Channel 4 denied that they have double standards when it comes to homophobia and racist language on Big Brother.
Last Sunday a contestant used the word ‘poof’ yet no action was taken against her. Earlier in the series a contestant used the word ‘nigger’ and was removed from the house.
Yesterday, however, after the same contestant, Laura, used the word a second time, she was reprimanded by Big Brother.