Scott Mills has denied that his fellow Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles is homophobic and said he was not offended by his inappropriate use of the word ‘gay.’
In an interview with The Guardian Mills, who came out in 2001, said he was not offended by the incident.
In June 2006, Moyles came under fire from anti-bullying charities, gay rights groups and MPs for describing a mobile phone ringtone as ‘gay’ on his breakfast show, using the word to mean the same as ‘rubbish.’
“I think on Chris’s show it was meant as a joke thing,” Mills said.
“Chris is one of the least homophobic people I’ve met. That “gay” thing was an off-the-cuff remark and I didn’t find it in the least bit offensive.
“I know, having spoken to him, he was quite mortified that people would think he was homophobic.”
Despite a BBC press officer trying to stop discussion of the incident, Guardian journalist Emine Saner pressed Mills over his backing of his colleague.
While refusing to comment on whether the BBC was right to back Moyles, Mills said the whole incident had been “blown out of proportion,” and claimed he himself has been accused of homophobia.
“I’ll say things and think it’s fine, but it sometimes offends people.
“I’ll write back, saying, “Actually, I am gay” and they’ll go, “Oh, right, sorry to bother you.”
“Maybe because I’m so comfortable with it, some things I say could be construed as being homophobic but obviously I don’t mean that.”
Moyles was voted Bully of the Year at the Stonewall Awards in 2006.
BBC governors backed the DJ saying he, “met the required editorial standards and did not demonstrate homophobia.”
The independent committee, which has subsequently been replaced by the BBC Trust, recognised Moyles’ comments may have caused offence, but said the use of the word “gay” to mean “lame” or “rubbish” was widespread amongst young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.
MPs tabled a House of Commons motion seeking a debate on the issue, led by Liberal Democrat Lorely Burt, supported by others from the Lib Dems, Conservatives and Labour.
In a speech to a Stonewall education conference last summer, Education minister Kevin Brennan also added his voice to the chorus of disapproval.
He 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.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The School Report, Stonewall’s research into homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools, found that almost two thirds of young gay people have been victimised.
97% of gay pupils regularly hear homophobic insults at school.