UK

TikTok homophobe under investigation after telling teen ‘being gay is worse than cancer’

Josh Milton May 26, 2022
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Side-by-side photos of Chapo and Ryan Bennett chatting on TikTok

Ryan Bennett, 19, was left stunned when a TikTok user called being gay a 'deformity'. (Screen capture via TikTok/@RyanJamesBennett)

A teenager was told being gay is a “deformity” and “worse than cancer” during a despicable TikTok exchange widely condemned online.

TikTok influencer Ryan Bennett, a 19-year-old living in Manchester, England, spoke with TikTok user @77chapo in the early hours of Tuesday (24 May).

Chapo requested to join Bennett’s live session at around 1am, only to hurl homophobic insults at him for more than two minutes as some of Bennett’s 31,000 followers watched on.

77chapo stressed he’s “not gay” as he questioned whether Bennett “believes he was born gay”.

“So you believe you were born deformed?” Chapo said to Bennett’s disbelief, according to a screen recording of the exchange posted to Twitter.

“If someone is born with diabetes, that’s a disease, that’s a problem.”

“It’s the worse disease of all diseases. It’s worse than cancer. It’s the worst disease, but it’s the easiest one to cure,” he added.

“You’re not even a male – you’re an ‘it’,” Chapo continued, laughing. “Listen, Ryan, can I tell you something? You still have time before you go to hell.”

TikTok moderators, the social media platform confirmed to PinkNews, interrupted the live stream and pulled it. Chapo was temporarily banned and the account is currently under review.

Bennett’s video went viral, with more than 5,100 liking the tweet and countless sending him messages of support as others blasted Chapo for his baseless remarks.

“This is sinister,” one user said. “Hope you’re OK.”

Another added: “I can’t believe how calm you were through this live – I would have totally lost it. So sorry you had to suffer this hatred first hand.”

TikTok user ‘under investigation’ by employer after saying being gay is a ‘deformity’

Chapo was “immediately removed” from his gig as a security officer at Islington Square, the shopping complex confirmed to PinkNews in a statement on Tuesday.

A spokesperson said Chapo had been contracted externally through security agency CIS Security, which is now conducting an internal investigation.

“The individual in question is employed by a third-party business, which is in turn appointed by one of our subcontractors,” the Islington Square spokesperson said.

“We understand that upon discovery of the post he was immediately removed from site. An internal investigation by the individual’s employer is underway.

“We are deeply shocked by this behaviour and reject the statements made by the individual in the strongest terms. We are committed to working with the appropriate parties throughout the investigation.”

CIS Security said in a statement: “We can confirm that upon discovery of this incident, the employee was immediately removed from the premises.

We are deeply shocked and saddened by this behaviour, which goes against both our company culture, policies and our values. We have zero-tolerance to any form of discrimination and were appalled by the comments in these videos.

“We are committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity across our organisation. Please be assured that an internal investigation is underway, and the appropriate action will be taken.”

Bennett told PinkNews his chat with Chapo started harmless enough – he “acted as if he was gay” so Bennett would feel at ease.

Then things took a turn. “When he began to ask about my sexuality, I did begin to think that this could go badly,” Bennett said.

Ryan Bennett poses in the mirror
Ryan Bennett, 19, was left stunned when a TikTok user called being gay a ‘deformity’. (Screen capture via TikTok/@RyanJamesBennett)

“When he said being ‘gay is worse than cancer’ and that it’s ‘easy to cure’ my heart just dropped,” Bennett added, a remark that stung considering the government’s botched conversion therapy ban.

“I genuinely couldn’t fathom how someone could say that on a live in front of hundreds of people. I felt disgusted, and confused due to how much it caught me off guard.”

TikTok’s own response to the video left Bennett feeling defeated and angry, he added. Bennett claimed TikTok initially removed his video and even threatened to ban him for “breaking community guidelines”.

An account holder had reported Bennett’s video, leading to his account being incorrectly moderated. His video has since been restored.

A TikTok spokesperson told PinkNews: “The LGBTQIA+ community are an intrinsic part of TikTok’s global creative community and bring so much talent, authenticity and joy to our platform.

“We work to create a welcoming community environment by removing anti-LGBTQ+ videos and accounts that attempt to spread hateful ideas on our platform.”

To Bennett, Chapo’s comments capture how Britain isn’t the tolerant society some see it as. “Rampant homophobia still exists in the UK to this day,” he said. “We’re still having to fight for the bare minimum of being respected.”

Hate crime has spiralled in recent years, with police forces saying homophobic hate crime has doubled and transphobic attacks quadrupled from 2015 to 2021.

The government’s indifference to LGBTQ+ rights is “encouraging” hatred towards the community, Bennett said. After all, its conversion therapy ban is shot with loopholes allowing “consenting” adults to receive the torturous treatment and will not include trans people.

Ministers have also scrapped vital gender recognition law reforms and canned their flagship LGBTQ+ conference after at least 120 groups pulled out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has increasingly mocked trans women and athletes as his office battles scandal after scandal.

“I’ve been speaking to people since the live happened,” Bennett said, “and multiple have agreed that it feels like we’re regressing as a society.”

More: Homophobia, London, Manchester, tiktok

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