A brewery in New Zealand has responded to controversy caused by a billboard containing an advert for one of its beer brands, which has been described by some as “homophobic”.

DB Breweries defended the advert which appears on a billboard between Wellington and the Hutt Valley, and said that the company was extending a long-standing joke around the uncertainty experienced by people whose parent has re-married, to include same-sex couples.

The Tui beer advert reads: “Dad’s new husband seems nice. Yeah right”.

The beer’s Facebook page has attracted many comments, some calling it “disgusting”, “offensive”, and “homophobic”, some calling for a boycott of the brand, and others disagreeing that the billboard is offensive at all.

William Papesch, Tui’s marketing manager, said: ”Given the recent passing of the Same Sex Marriage Bill in Parliament, this ‘Yeah Right’ line is a topical spin at the age-old situation of a parent’s new partner.”

Papesch also went on to say that the billboards featuring that joke had been around since 1994.

“Given the duration of this campaign and the quantity of ‘Yeah Right’ lines, occasionally there is the odd ‘Yeah Right’ line which doesn’t hit the mark in generating a smile for all.”

The Facebook page for Tui, attracted comments, both in agreement and against the allegations of homophobia.

“I have always had a good giggle at your billboards as I drive down the Hutt motorway each morning, but I am pretty disgusted by the one I saw yesterday. Homophobia in this day and age? Really??”, posted one user, Sophie Lockwood.

“As a gay man who has fought for equality all my life, I cannot believe the stupidity of people getting upset … to me it’s not anti-gay, if the billboard said ‘new wife’ no one would raise an eyebrow, why should ‘new husband’ be any different,” Deklan Martin wrote.

New Zealand last week became the first country in the Asia-Pacific to legalise equal marriage, as well as the third of the 54 Commonwealth member states, and the second of Queen Elizabeth II’s realms, as its parliament voted for the bill 77 to 44.

The bill has received royal approval, and the Marriage Equality Act will take effect on 19 August.

As the Parliament of New Zealand passed a bill to allow equal marriage in the country, those in attendance of the reading broke into song, once it was announced that it had passed.