TV cartoon show The Simpsons has been criticised by a gay advocacy group after a character used the word ‘gay’ to mean ‘bad’ or ‘rubbish.’

The show, one of the longest-running in TV history, is normally very supportive of the gay community, and even featured an episode where same-sex marrige was legalised in the town of Springfield.

But the latest Halloween special has angered the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) after school bully Nelson Muntz used the phrase “that’s so gay” to character Milhouse Van Houten.

GLSEN wants the show’s producers to promise not to use the phrase again.

“Nelson’s use of ‘that’s so gay’ in a negative way is not surprising considering that 90% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth say they hear the term used this way frequently or often at school.” the group said.

“Nelson should visit ThinkB4YouSpeak.com where he can send an apologetic e-card to Milhouse. GLSEN would also welcome Nelson’s participation in our next PSA so he can make amends by helping to educate young people about why such language is wrong.”