BBC: Have I Got News For You joke aimed at Iranian regime not gay people

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The BBC has defended a comment about Iran on topical satire show Have I Got News For You.

A gay man in London reported the show to the police after guest presenter Alexander Armstrong, commenting on the failure of an Iranian world record bid, said:

“On the plus side they do still hold the record for hanging homosexuals.”

Today a spokesperson for the BBC told

“The presenter never intended for this comment to be homophobic – quite the opposite.

“Viewers are more than familiar with Have I Got News For You‘s use of satire – in this instance aimed at the Iranian regime and not the Iranian gay community.”

Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner who has raised awareness of the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Iran, said:

“I appreciate the complainant’s concerns and good intentions but I interpreted it as an anti-Iran joke, exposing and mocking Iran’s murderous homophobic regime,” he told

“It was parody and satire, I think, not an endorsement of executions.”

Iranian human rights campaigners estimate that 4,000 gay men have been executed since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Under Sharia law gay sex illegal, with penalty of death for offenders as young as 14 years old.

A Metropolitan police spokesperson told

“A member of the public has made a complaint regarding comments made in the programme.

“The complaint is currently being reviewed.”

The BBC is at the centre of a political storm over taste and decency after thousands complained about the behaviour of star presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand during a BBC Radio 2 show.

Today they were both suspended and all their shows taken off air as the BBC investigates their prank calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. Mr Brand later resigned from Radio 2.

The Prime Minister and other leading politicians have criticised the show, in which Brand and Ross left messages on Mr Sachs answerphone claiming Brand had slept with his granddaughter.

The fact that the show was pre-recorded and then broadcast has raised questions about editorial standards at the BBC.

So far more than 18,000 people have complained to the corporation about the October 18th broadcast.

The Iranian joke occurs at approximately 08:30