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Ian McKellen Blasts New Zealand Prime Minister for His 'Careless' and 'Damaging' Use of the Word 'Gay'

Yesterday I mentioned that New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key used the word "gay" as an insult in an interview with a radio host, suggesting that the host was a weak player at golf because his jacket was "gay".

MckellenActor Sir Ian McKellen blasted Key on his website, writing:

New Zealand has an undeserved reputation (amongst those who have never visited) as living a little in the past, not quite up-to-date with the world elsewhere.  As a regular visitor, I've often pointed out how, on social issues, the Kiwis have lead the world - first country to give women the vote, a nuclear-free stronghold and in the vanguard of civil rights for gay people.

Which brings me to John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand.  Recently in a light-hearted radio interview (see below) he referred to his host wearing a "gay red top," by which he meant, apparently, "a weird red shirt."  Defending himself later, he said he was using the word in the sense that his children used it and not in any way to disparage gay people.  Anyway, he said, the word was in the dictionary.  So of course are many other words that can give offence.

Nevertheless, Mr Key should watch his language.  I'm currently touring secondary schools in UK, attacking homophobia in the playground and discouraging kids from the careless use of "gay" which might make their gay friends (and teachers) feel less about themselves.  So even as he supports the proposal to introduce same-gender marriages in New Zealand, I do hope John Key listens to his critics and appreciates their concern.  Careless talk damages lives.

Thank you, Sir.


New Zealand Prime Minister John Key Under Fire for Using the Word 'Gay' as an Insult: VIDEO

Key

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key is under fire for mocking a radio host's red jacket, suggesting he's a weak golfer because the jacket's color is "gay", the New Zealand Herald reports:

"What you're wearing is an absolute disgrace. You parade yourself as some sort of centre-right interested community leader and you're in the red," he said. Later in the segment he described Mackay's top as "gay" in an exchange about golf. "You're munted mate. You're never going to make it. You've got that gay red top on."

The comments have been ridiculed on Twitter, with comedian Guy Williams saying "John Key is quickly becoming to New Zealand what Borat was to Kazakhstan."

Other Twitter users said the use of "gay" as an insult made Mr Key appear homophobic.

Today Mr Key said he used the term "gay" to mean "weird". He said he picked up the term from his children and had no intention of seeming homophobic. Asked at his post-Cabinet press conference whether he was homophobic, Mr Key said: "No, I'm voting for gay marriage, I'm hardly homophobic - I led the charge on it."

Mr Key agreed it was an unfortunate use of words but said: "a hell of a lot of people would use it and the common use of it is in the Oxford dictionary".

"Young people use it all the time, I don't think too many people would be offended by it. If someone is I apologise for it," he said.

Key was already under fire for comments he had made earlier in the day, calling footballer David Beckham "thick as batsh*t".

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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