Retired boxer Evander Holyfield has sparked international anger after publicly airing his opposition to homosexuality.
The 51-year-old athlete, who is currently starring on “Celebrity Big Brother” in the U.K., recently said on the show that being gay isn’t normal, that “it is a choice” and that same-sex attraction can be fixed.
The conversation that sparked international debate — and a reprimand from “Big Brother” producers — unfolded when his co-star Luisa Zissman, an entrepreneur, was chatting with Holyfield about homosexuality and athletics during Sunday’s episode, The Daily Mail reported.
“I think it’s really bad that no-one stands up and says it in the sporting industries,” Zissman said of the failure of some gay boxers to “come out.” “I think it’s good to be open about that because it’s normal.”
Holyfield, though, disagreed.
“What would be good about it? … That ain’t normal,” he said of homosexuality.
From there, the conversation became somewhat contentious, with Zissman noting that she didn’t think the chat should continue. Regardless, the debate progressed.
“If you were born and your leg were turned this way, what do you do, you go to the doctor and get it fixed back right,” Holyfield said of homosexuality.
But Zissman countered the notion that same-sex attraction is fixable, claiming that “it’s not a choice.”
“Yes it is a choice, come on,” Holyfield rebutted.
Watch this unfold below:
The conversation ended up later landing the boxer in the hot seat, with “Big Brother” reprimanding him and decrying his comments as offensive.
“Before you entered the ‘Big Brother’ house, the rules regarding unacceptable language and behavior were explained to you. Last night, in a conversation with Luisa, you expressed the view that being gay was not normal and that it could be fixed,’ explained a producer for “Big Brother.” “While ‘Big Brother’ understands these are the views you hold, they aren’t the views that are held by a large section of society and expressing these views will be extremely offensive to many people. Do you understand why?”
The producer continued, “‘Big Brother’ does not tolerate the use of offensive language,” going on to ask Holyfield to consider the ramifications of his statements about homosexuality.
Holyfield responded that he was immersed in the conversation with Zissman and wasn’t thinking that he was speaking to a larger audience. He also said that he was merely stating his opinion on the matter.
Holyfield has never hidden the fact that he’s a born-again Christian, which makes his views on homosexuality relatively unsurprising.
Still, that hasn’t stopped some from voicing anger, frustration and outrage.
Singer Boy George is among those speaking out against the former boxer. On Sunday, the performer tweeted, “Shame, I had such admiration for Mr Evander Holyfield, he seemed dignified and I was sure he was a cool, smart, giant!”
Over the past few days, he has followed these messages up with other comments about sexuality as well.
And Boy George is not alone. Others, too, are lambasting Holyfield over his views.
Holyfield’s son, Ewin Holyfield, though, has come out in support of his father, telling TMZ that he’s not a bigot.
“My dad is the most loving and caring person you will ever meet. He treats everyone like a human being … even if they are homosexual,” he told the entertainment outlet. “My dad feels that being gay is a choice … and naturally that’s how things work. You cannot procreate and make a baby with two women, or two men. But at the same time, my dad is not going to judge someone for their sexual orientation.”
Ofcom, the U.K.’s communications regulator, could end up investigating Channel 5, the network that airs “Big Brother,” following complaints, The Guardian reported.
Amid the frustration and debate, some are comparing the flap to the recent “Duck Dynasty” controversy, which erupted when patriarch Phil Robertson made similar comments about homosexuality.
(H/T: Daily Mail)
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