Richard Hammond angrily denies making homophobic comments
Former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond has strongly denied making homophobic comments, after claiming that gay celebrities shouldn’t bother to come out.
The former Top Gear presenter came under fire over remarks he made in an interview with the Sunday Times.
He has claimed that sexuality is “not an issue” and questioned why gay people “feel the need to mention it” – while also defending a joke about ice cream not being for straight men.
In an interview with Newsweek today, Hammond refused to apologise for the comments.
He said: “I entirely reject any criticism of me being anti-gay. That’s just not the case.
“The very last thing I am is in any way anti-gay. And I said I believe that love is love is love.”
Hammond went on to suggest that he cannot be homophobic because he believes ‘love is love’.
The TV host said: “There are people who are genuinely homophobic and they would disagree with my view that love is love and people are who they are.”
He added: “You’d have to have your head so buried in the sand not to be aware of the fact there are places in the world where it’s difficult for people to be who they are. I wouldn’t deny that, absolutely. But that isn’t who I was talking about.”
Explaining his original comments, he added that he was speaking about his desire for gay people to “simply be who they are”.
He said: “Perhaps the point I was trying to make was that sometimes, for older generations it’s been a very different journey to being able to be honest about themselves and they’ve had to fight for it.
“Whereas there is, and I very much hope so, a generation for whom it isn’t really such an issue. They’re not going to be persecuted on the grounds of their sexuality or miss out on opportunities. They can simply be who they are, and that’s how the world should be.”
In the original interview, he had said: “It may be because I live in a hideously safe and contained middle-class world, where a person’s sexuality is not an issue, but when I hear of people in the media coming out, I think, why do they even feel the need to mention it?”
Hammond added: “It is so old-fashioned to make a big deal of it. That isn’t even an interesting thing to say at a dinner party any more.”
His comments were roundly trashed on social media.
In the same interview, The Grand Tour presenter defended cracking a joke about ice cream being only for gay people.
The popular Top Gear and The Grand Tour presenter made the bizarre remarks in the Amazon show’s Boxing Day episode.
Fellow host Jeremy Clarkson had suggested you couldn’t enjoy a Magnum ice cream while inside a Rolls Royce, pointing to a photo of its pristine interior.
Hammond then responded by saying: “It’s alright, I don’t eat ice cream. It’s something to do with being straight.”
A senior officer in the British Army since cited the joke in a warning that that LGBT people in the armed forces still face “ingrained prejudice”.
But in his interview with the Times, Hammond defended the joke – almost a year after it was made.
He told the Sunday Times: “Look, anyone who knows me knows I wasn’t being serious, that I’m not homophobic. Love is love, whatever the sex of the two people in love.
Olly Alexander of Years and Years, slammed Hammond at the time.
He wrote: “Really tho no wonder some straight guys are fucked up they can’t even have ice cream.”
And according to Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders, LGBT+ soldiers and staff face “discrimination” and “bullying” whilst serving.
The commander of the Field Army and a three-star general, spoke out in an open letter to the LGBT+ community in the British military.
In it, he hit out at former Top Gear host Richard Hammond for ‘joking’ that eating ice cream is “gay”.
The general writes: “Under fire, no one cares if someone is black or white, gay or straight, because they value the individual for who he or she is, what he or she can do, and because they are so utterly dependent on him or her. But this experience is not universal.
“Away from the cauldron of operations or training, lazy or ingrained prejudice remains, ranging from outright bullying and discrimination, to the sort of casual but hurtful remark that refers to ice cream as ‘gay’.”
It’s not the first time a Top Gear presenter has come under fire over homophobic jokes.
In 2015, Clarkson and Hammond also came under fire for gleefully using homophobic slurs on a visit to a fudge factory.
Jeremy Clarkson also previously apologised for a tweet he sent containing a picture of himself with a sign saying “gay c*nt”.
Clarkson had tweeted the image in 2014, featuring fellow Top Gear host James May, along with the caption “Sadly, I fell asleep on the plane.”
In 2010, Clarkson caused outrage when he said of gay people: “I demand the right not to be bummed.”
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Clarkson has more recently lashed out at transgender people.
In a newspaper column he said that parents of a transgender child were “lunatics”.
He said of encountering a family with a trans child: “I was horrified. I wanted to seek them out and explain that they were free to live a lunatic life, washing their armpits with charcoal and liking Jeremy Corbyn’s thoughts on how ballistic nuclear submarines must be built by the comrades and then used as flower pots.
“But they must not, and I was going to emphasise this with spittle, be allowed to poison the mind of a child.”
He added: “To try to calm down a bit, I turned to the BBC for guidance, and there I was told there are 650,000 people living in Britain today with some kind of gender ‘issue’.
“Well, I just sat there shaking my head, because the simple fact is: there aren’t.”