A gay former soldier has sparked a furious reaction after saying if LGBT people want equality and respect gay saunas should be shut down.
Former soldier James Wharton, a friend of Prince Harry's, has said gay saunas are “thorns in our side that mark our community as different for the wrong reasons.”
Writing in Winq magazine, he said: "Sex saunas need to be history. The time has come to close them down."
Wharton said if gay people want to be respected and accepted as "the new normal," the community must stop supporting establishments that encourage promiscuity and sex.
He said: “If we don’t, we feed the haters and we hand the bigots who remain a vocal minority ammunition with which to attack us.”
But campaigner Peter Tatchell told the Independent it would be "very wrong" if the gay community became proscriptive.
“Plenty of gay and bisexual men use saunas without resorting to drugs or unsafe sex. A small minority may act recklessly and that should be challenged but it would be wrong to penalise the majority attitudes.”
Others angrily took to Twitter to condemn the former soldier's suggestions.
Also, this whole 'gay saunas' thing is ridiculous. (Homo)normalising sex isn't a step towards equality/acceptance - it's a step away from it— Matt (@mattBZA) March 4, 2014
The whole ‘gay saunas are why people don’t like us’ is not a million miles away for saying ‘people get raped because of how they dress’.— Adrian Bradley (@adebradley) March 4, 2014
gay saunas can be completely eradicated, but there are still people who will hate gays REGARDLESS. there's still the bible.— zoe (@BabyWasu) March 4, 2014
Don't you try to tell me gay saunas provide ammunition for homophobes. JUST BEING GAY AND *GASP* EXISTING IS AMMUNITION ENOUGH FOR THEM.— Hir Highness, Alan H (@awhooker) March 4, 2014
But Mr Wharton insisted it was time for the gay community to “grow up”.
“For me as a gay man, the notion that there exist within our communities a series of places that actively promote the convening of gay men for participation in sex of shades various and in groups of all sizes rather revolts me," he said.