ITV defends Coleen Nolan ‘ISIS cake’ comments on Loose Women
ITV appears to have defended widely criticised comments made by Loose Women panellist Coleen Nolan during a discussion about the discrimination ruling against Ashers Bakery when she asked about requesting a ‘support ISIS’ cake.
Nolan made the comments while hosting the ITV programme on Tuesday, and was joined by Janet Street-Porter and Jamelia, as they discussed the ruling made in Belfast which found that Ashers Bakery unlawfully discriminated by refusing to make a pro-same-sex marriage cake.
She compared asking for a “support gay marriage” cake to asking for one supporting ISIS, the militant group which publicly executes gay people.
“What about if someone walked in and said I want a cake and I want the whole Islamic State [ISIS] on it, and how I support them killing our people,” she said.
Although ITV’s press office declined to provide a comment when approached by PinkNews, Benjamin Till – a BAFTA-nominated composer and director, and star of Channel 4’s ‘Our Gay Wedding The Musical’ – was told that the “debate had balance.”
In an email sent to Mr Till, who married his husband Nathan Taylor in the musical broadcast on Channel 4 last year, an ITV viewer services representative claimed Nolan “emphatically did not equate ISIS with homosexuality or gay marriage at any point.”
Despite beginning: “The panel attempted to reflect the full range of views, and we are sorry if by doing so we caused offence to anyone,” the email went on to defend the segment.
Responding to suggestion by Mr Till that the programme was not balanced, saying “NO ONE on your show argued in favour of the ruling”, the email from ITV continued: “The panellists all gave their views on the case and we feel that Ruth Langsford ensured that the debate had balance.”
When Mr Till said in his reply that he had complained to Ofcom, the representative said it was “no longer appropriate” to continue the correspondence.
He was invited “for a cup of tea and a discussion” after Ofcom had completed its investigation.
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has received over a hundred complaints about Nolan’s comments.
ITV has faced calls from viewers to sack Nolan, or for her to issue an apology, however the broadcaster has declined to comment on the issue when approached by PinkNews.
Controversial columnist Katie Hopkins this week hit out at Nolan calling her “chubster”, and writing on Twitter: “Gay rights are not the same as ISIS love.”
Back in 2007, Nolan caused controversy when she said “there is only so much I want to accept”, and that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt.
The full reply to Mr Till is available to read below
Dear Mr Till,
Thank you for your email and calls about the discussion on yesterday’s Loose Women regarding the decision in the Ashers Bakery case. This was an important legal case, where the court had to balance the competing rights of two different groups with strongly held opinions and for this reason it has rightly generated considerable public debate. The panel attempted to reflect the full range of views, and we are sorry if by doing so we caused offence to anyone.
Coleen Nolan made clear in her comments that it was completely unacceptable for any business to refuse to serve customers on the basis of their sexuality, and suggested that businesses, which did so should be boycotted. She then went on to query whether there were any circumstances in which a business owner could refuse to create a product to which they were fundamentally opposed and it was in that context that she gave the example of a business owner being asked to make a cake with ISIS symbols. Coleen emphatically did not equate ISIS with homosexuality or gay marriage at any point.
The panellists all gave their views on the case and we feel that Ruth Langsford ensured that the debate had balance.
We agree with you that one of the panellists incorrectly stated that gay marriage was legal in Northern Ireland. It is of course same sex civil partnership, which is legal and the panellist misspoke. We have clarified this on today’s show and via Tweets yesterday.
I am sorry that our programme has moved you to contact Ofcom but once they have completed their investigations our Editor would like to invite you to visit us here for a cup of tea and a discussion. The Ofcom process can take a couple of weeks and they will be in touch with you directly. Please contact us by email once you have heard from them so that we can arrange a suitable date.