Australian budget airline Jetstar has apologised to a passenger who pulled his suitcase from a baggage carousel to find the message “I am gay” written on it with stickers.

The bag was first on the carousel and the imagery of the words was large enough for other passengers to see.

“We are taking this matter very seriously and we have contacted the passenger to apologise for any distress caused,” a Jetstar spokesperson said.

Twitter user @aaronpp posted the picture on Sunday.

“Utterly disgusted to find my luggage front and center on the @JetstarAirways luggage carousel looking like this,” he wrote.

“‘I am gay’ was not emblazened across my luggage as a celebration. It was used as a pejorative. It was used to humiliate. It was used as a slur.”

Yesterday, UK singer Will Young said more needed be done to clamp down on homophobic language and the use of the word “gay” as an insult in schools.

“Gay was claimed as a negative term in the 80s so I grew up with people saying ‘That’s so gay, this is so gay’ and it’s never really been addressed.”

The pop star recently had a meeting to discuss the issue with Education Secretary Michael Gove and said it had been “encouraging”.