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Jonathan Ross ‘mortified’ over accusations of homophobia

Jessica Geen May 14, 2009
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Jonathan Ross has spoken out over claims he was homophobic on his BBC Radio 2 show on Saturday.

The star had suggested children who appeared to be gay should be adopted before they bring their “partner” home, an exclusive report in revealed yesterday.

Writing on his Twitter, last night, he said: “Am mortified to hear some people thought I was being homophobic on Radio show. Nothing could be further from truth, as I am sure most know.”

A later update said: “Have gay/bi family members so never been an issue. But I guess soemtimes [sic] you need to be sensitive to avoid upsetting folk.”

The BBC and media watchdog Ofcom received a number of complaints over comments the presenter made on the show.

While discussing a number of teen singer Hannah Montana-themed prizes, Ross said: “If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption before he brings his… erm… partner home.” reader Karen Mills, who listened to the show, said: “How can these people earn such huge sums of public money to come out with this discriminatory rubbish? What would be the message to a young gay man listening to this? Worse still, how might such comments reinforce and support homophobic bullying in the playground?

“I dont understand how the BBC – a public body that we all have to fund, is allowed to get away with this kind of casual homophobia – especially when its own website goes on and on about its commitment to ‘equality and diversity’ and about its duty to serve all parts of its ‘diverse audience’.

“Well I am ‘diverse’ and feel ‘very unserved’ when I hear the kind of rubbish Ross spouted on Saturday.”

Stonewall’s director of public affairs, Derek Munn, said: “Stonewall has consistently shown that the BBC fails lesbian and gay licence-fee payers.

“Perhaps it could consider re-deploying some of the money from Jonathan’s astronomical salary into programmes which feature a more fair depiction of lesbian and gay lives.”

A survey in March found that 67 per cent readers thought an unwillingness to discipline stars over anti-gay comments showed the BBC was institutionally homophobic.

When asked whether the BBC would take a stronger line if such jokes were about black, Asian or disabled people, 91 per cent thought it would.

A BBC spokesman described the remarks as “off-the-cuff”, adding: “Jonathan is not homophobic in any sense and never meant for his comments to be taken seriously.”

Last year, Ross was suspended from the BBC for three months after he and Russell Brand left obscene messages on the answerphone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

Although only two listeners complained to the BBC when the programme was broadcast, 30,000 members of the public complained after the story was picked up by the national media.

Ross’ colleague Chris Moyles, the Radio 1 DJ, has also come under fire over allegedly homophobic remarks he made about openly gay singer Will Young earlier this year.

The DJ was named as “Bully of the Year” by gay rights charity Stonewall in 2006 after Moyles refused to apologise for describing a ringtone that he didn’t like as being “gay.”

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