A French television presenter is facing outrage after poking fun at gay people who responded to his spoof of a dating ad on his show.
On Monday’s episode of “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” (or “Don’t Touch My TV”), host Cyril Hanouna revealed that he’d posted an online ad claiming to be a bisexual man called Jean-José, the BBC reports. Jean-José was described in the ad as being “very sporty and well endowed.”
A clip from “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” shows Hanouna speaking in a snarky, somewhat effeminate tone as he chats with a man who replied to his ad. He’d also used a shirtless photo of filmmaker and YouTube personality Max Emerson in the ad. Emerson, 28, recently made waves when Instagram photos of him and his boyfriend, Andrés Camilo Hernandez, attending a military ball went viral.
The segment quickly landed Hanouna in hot water. Nicolas Noguier of Le Refuge, a France-based LGBTQ advocacy group, told the BBC that one of Hanouna’s guests was “distressed” by the prank since he had yet to come out as gay to his parents. “We were devastated by his tears and his fear of being found out by his parents and those around him,” Noguier said, according to the report.
The controversy prompted a number of high-profile advertisers, including Chanel, Nestlé and Disneyland Paris, to yank advertisements that aired during the primetime show. (BuzzFeed published a running list of companies that have pulled their advertisements from the show.)
On Wednesday, GLAAD announced it was joining the Association of French LGBT Journalists in launching an online petition in both English and French asking supporters to speak out against Hanouna’s actions. Thus far, France’s Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, which regulates television content, had received more than 25,000 complaints in response to “Touche Pas à Mon Poste,” according to a GLAAD press release.
“This show not only humiliates gay people in the cruelest of styles, but glorifies a dangerous practice that continues to put gay men in harm’s way in France and around the world,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in an email statement. Her organization, she said, urged “our global community to speak out against the use of online dating profiles and apps to entrap and harm innocent LGBTQ people.”
Emerson echoed those sentiments, calling the unauthorized use of his photos “entirely unacceptable.” Earlier in the week, he blasted the move on Twitter.
It isn’t the first time that Hanouna’s actions have made headlines. According to The Local, an English language French news site, viewers were angered by an October 2016 episode in which a “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” guest kissed a woman’s breasts on the air. In addition, the host frequently mentions homosexuality, “often to laugh about it in a disparaging manner,” on the program, according to the report.
For his part, Hanouna said he was “hurt” by the allegations of homophobia, noting it was “everything he had been fighting against for years,” according to the BBC.
For the latest in LGBTQ news, check out the Queer Voices newsletter.