Former Top Gear host Richard Hammond has been labelled “ridiculous” for suggesting he does not eat ice cream because he is heterosexual.
Gay rights charities condemned the television presenter for claiming that his reason for not eating the frozen dessert was “something to do with being straight” in an episode of The Grand Tour.
Broadcaster and campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “It is a perverse world when an everyday pleasure like ice cream becomes the butt of homophobic innuendo.
“That Richard Hammond thinks he needs to boast his heterosexuality is weird and will get people wondering why.
“His pandering to prejudice is bad enough but the audience applause makes it worse. It shows that we still have some way to go to end bigoted banter.”
A spokesman for LGBT equality charity Stonewall said: “Hammond’s choice of words were not just ridiculous, but chosen purposefully to mock and belittle. This is the sort of childish language heard in playgrounds across Britain.
“Stonewall trains teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic slurs like these, so to hear this sort of language on television is extremely disappointing and sends the wrong message to young people.”
The comments on episode six of car show The Grand Tour, which was released on Amazon Prime on December 23, were made after Hammond’s co-host Jeremy Clarkson pointed at a photo of a Rolls-Royce and said: “The only problem is that in one of those, you couldn’t enjoy a chocolate Magnum ice cream.”
Hammond replied: “It’s all right, I don’t eat ice cream. I think it’s something to do with being straight.”
James May and Clarkson appeared puzzled as the audience clapped, and Clarkson asked: “Why are you applauding him? What do you mean? You’re saying all children are homosexual?”
Hammond said: “No, but - there’s nothing wrong with it, but a grown man eating an ice cream - it’s a bit - it’s that way, rather than that way.”
He added: “I’m right. I can’t believe you can’t see that. It’s easy. It’s in front of you.”
Hammond could not be reached for comment.