A French television presenter made a fake gay online dating profile, then prank called the people who messaged him, live to 1.7 million people.
Cyril Hanouna presents Touche Pas A Mon Poste (Don’t Touch My TV Set) and said the segment was a joke.
He answered calls in a feminine voice and exaggerated camp hand gestures, to a laughing panel of fellow presenters.
Hanouna baits the gay men into describing their sexual fantasies, unaware they’re live on air.
Gay Star News can reveal Hanouna used actor and YouTuber Max Emerson‘s torso as the bait for the gay online profile.
Emerson tweeted: ‘I hope he learns a lesson.’
— max emerson (@TheMaxisms) 20 May 2017
Since airing on Thursday night (18 May) the sketch has since received many complaints to the CSA, the independent regulator of television standards.
SOS Homophobie, the French association for the protection of gay people also filed a complaint.
President Joël Deumier said it was ‘scandalous, shameful and homophobic.’
He added: ‘When you let people get away with behaviour like this, you trivialise homophobic discourse.
‘This sketch was deeply homophobic and you would have to be aware of it,’ he said.
— Infos Françaises (@InfosFrancaises) 19 May 2017
A day after the incident, Hanouna said: ‘It made me laugh to camp a character.’
But after the backlash, he said: ‘Homophobia is everything I’ve been fighting against for years, just like xenophobia, racism and misogyny, and today being called homophobic makes me feel really sad,’ he added.
Don’t Touch My TV Set: A history of homophobia
The show has come under fire in the past for previous calls of homophobia.
In December last year, gay co-anchor Matthieu Delormeau received 27 different instances of ‘jokes’ from Hanouna.
At the time, Hanouna said: ‘It’s just a joke, can’t we have a bit of fun any more?’
French LGBTI journalists studied the show for one month and found 42 mentions of homosexuality. Of that total, most of those were ‘often to demean it.’
In a year, the show has received almost 6,500 complaints.