The leader of the Liberal Democrats has become the first party leader to comment on the decision of food manufacturer Heinz to withdraw an advert from TV because it depicted two men kissing.

Nick Clegg has written to the Director of UK Corporate Affairs at Heinz expressing his disappointment at their decision and asking them to reconsider.

“The depiction of a same-sex kiss in this advert was innocent both in tone and content, and I am shocked that you decided to withdraw it,” he wrote.

“While I understand that some people in Britain today are uncomfortable with same-sex relationships, such prejudice should not be condoned by an organisation of your size and stature.

“The sight of two men kissing affectionately should not be considered offensive or controversial.

“This is particularly the case in an advertisement which was so rich in irony and double-meaning.

“The decision to withdraw it has not only offended many gay, lesbian, transgender – and straight – people, it also represents a backward step in attempts to combat homophobia in Britain today, not to mention a collective loss of humour.

“I am asking you to reverse this decision and reinstate the advert.”

The ban on the gay kiss advert has been widely covered in the press, with many people criticising Heinz for being pressured by what gay equality Stonewall claimed was an organised campaign.

The Advertising Standards Authority received more than 200 complaints about the ad, which showed an innocent peck on the lips between a male New York deli chef, in the role of a ‘mother’ to two kids, and the children’s father.

Despite being contacted twice by PinkNews.co.uk, Heinz has refused to elaborate on the press statement issued from their US corporate headquarters on Monday.

“It is our policy to listen to consumers,” Heinz said.

“We recognise that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it.

“The advertisement, part of a short-run campaign, was intended to be humorous and we apologise to anyone who felt offended.

“The Deli Mayo TV advertisement in the UK was created as a humorous take on a slice of life and featured a genuine New York deli chef taking the place of a mum preparing great tasting sandwiches in the kitchen using UK Deli Mayo.”

Any people offended that Heinz removed an advert featuring a gay couple should contact them for FREE on 0800 528 57 57.

Stonewall has called on all consumers, gay and straight, to boycott Heinz products.