New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, has been forced to apologize after joking a radio host was wearing a ‘gay’ red jumper.
‘You’re going to be nervous when you’re lining up on those par threes aren’t you,’ he teased DJ Jamie Mackay.
‘You’re munted mate, you’re never gonna make it, you’ve got that gay red top on there.’
Key has now said sorry for the gag, explaining he was poking fun at Mackay for wearing red because the colour of his own National Party was blue.
However, he stopped short of a full apology, claiming the word ‘gay’ is a slang word used widely by young people in the country.
He said: ‘If someone was offended by it then I apologize but it’s not exactly like a term you don’t hear everywhere.’
But gay rights groups have blasted the PM, who claims he can’t be homophobic because he voted for same-sex marriage.
GayNZ.com said: ‘His critics may call him ‘John Gay’ for his support for marriage equality, but the Prime Minister has been anything but gay-friendly with a "gay red top" crack at the host of a radio show.’
The flippant comment was also branded as homophobic on Twitter.
Key was accused of setting a bad example while there are international efforts to wipe out casual homophobia in schools, such as a pledge started by high school students in Adelaide, Australia to ban the use of ‘gay’ as an insult.
Key, leader of the conservative National Party, impressed LGBT voters in New Zealand earlier this year by appearing on stage at the Big Gay Out festival.
And in July this year Key confirmed that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage.
The ‘gay red top’ is the second gaffe from Key reported in the press this week. He made headlines for reportedly calling British footballer David Beckham ‘thick as batshit’.