Gay celebrities and campaigners have condemned as "vile" and "out of touch" a resurgence of homophobic media reporting in the wake of plans to equalise adoption laws as well as continuing fall-out from the Paul Burrell affair.
Businessman Ivan Massow, comic Graham Norton and actor-turned- MEP Michael Cashman are among the figures who have criticised editors for using gay stereotypes and offensive language to sell newspapers.
Their call comes as the Independent Television Commission prepares to suspend indefinitely an advert for Yahoo!, the internet company, following a flurry of complaints by gay viewers. The commercial, in which a naked man is left tied to a tree on his stag night only to be stalked by a predatory homosexual in a raincoat, will be pulled off air tomorrow.
News of the groundswell of unrest among the gay community follows weeks of sustained homophobic reporting in the right-wing press, led by the Daily Mail. Only last week, the paper's Ephraim Hardcastle diary branded Norton a "bottom-feeding nonentity" in an item about Roger Moore's appearance on his Channel 4 chat show.
A week earlier, the same column carried an item laced with innuendo about allegations stemming from the Burrell affair. It read: "Did a member of the Royal Family really couple with a servant? Former valet George Smith, who alleges homosexual rape by a Prince Charles intimate, says he saw it. So who played the passive role? The royal, according to Mr Smith. Talk about lese-majeste!"
On Friday, the Mail launched another tirade, this time against Angela Mason, the new director of the Government's Women and Equality Unit. She was unfit for the job, it suggested, because of her previous role as head of the gay pressure group Stonewall.
The Mail is far from the only paper to jump on the bandwagon. The Sunday Telegraph last month carried a front-page story criticising the Government for granting asylum to two Jamaican homosexuals who had fled "severe homophobia" in their home …