Sharon Osbourne has said she still knows lots of gay people in the entertainment industry who are in the closet and use women as beards.

Speaking on The Talk, the former X Factor judge said: “Don’t you find there are – not naming names – a lot of people inside this industry and outside who have women as beards?

“They live a lie. I’m not condemning them, but it’s sad that people do have to do that and they don’t have the wherewithal or the strength to live the lives that they were born to lead.”

She also weighed in on Simon Cowell, who earlier this week rejected “antiquated” claims that he is secretly gay.

Osbourne said: “So many people do ask if Simon Cowell is gay… I don’t know why! It just comes with his aura.

“He does have a very gay-ish – which I think if fabulous – air about him.”

Last week, Southwark Crown Court heard that Tulisa’s manager Gareth Varey had an exchange with Mahmood, who posed as a film producing Sheik, during which Varey said he knew men who had slept with music producer Cowell.

In a secret recording, Mahmood asked Varey whether Cowell was gay, to which he responded “yes”.

Cowell’s management said: “Simon was referred to during the trial without forewarning, resulting in widespread media coverage of untrue claims regarding his private life.

“In 2014 the question of whether someone is or is not gay is antiquated. (As it happens he isn’t, though if he were, he would simply have said so).

“However, the issue was the false suggestion made by Mr Varey that Simon – who is renowned for his honesty and candidness – had thus not been truthful in the public arena and this is what we have been obliged to clarify.”

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