BBC “regrets” DJ Chris Moyles’ Auschwitz comments

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A radio personality who was once voted Bigot of the Year at the Stonewall Awards has made a tasteless joke about the Holocaust.

An estimated six million people were killed by the Nazis in concentration camps. They were mostly Jews but thousands of homosexuals were also targeted. Next Tuesday is Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK.

Chris Moyles made his comments about Auschwitz on his BBC Radio 1 breakfast show on Tuesday while discussing his apperance on BBC TV show Who Do You Think You Are?

During the same broadcast he claimed that gay singer Will Young would be wearing a dress to celebrate his 30th birthday.

“Unlike a lot of the Who Do You Think You Are? shows I didn’t go to Auschwitz … pretty much everybody goes there, whether or not they’re Jewish… they always kind of end up there, you know, if they just pass through on their way to Florida or something.”

He then sang along to Will Young’s hit Evengreen in a camp manner: “It’s my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight.”

A BBC spokeswoman said several complaints had been received about Moyles’ mockery of Will Young, but none about his Holocaust “joke.”

“We regret that on this occasion his comments were misjudged and we are speaking to Chris and his team about them,” she said.

Moyles is no stranger to accusations of homophobia.

In June 2006 he came under fire from anti-bullying charities, gay rights groups and MPs for describing a mobile phone ringtone as ‘gay’ on his breakfast show, using the word to mean the same as ‘rubbish.’

Moyles was voted Bully of the Year at the Stonewall Awards in 2006.

BBC governors backed the DJ saying he: “met the required editorial standards and did not demonstrate homophobia.”

The independent committee, which has subsequently been replaced by the BBC Trust, recognised Moyles’ comments may have caused offence, but said the use of the word “gay” to mean “lame” or “rubbish” was widespread amongst young people.

In a speech to a Stonewall education conference in 2007 Education minister Kevin Brennan also added his voice to the chorus of disapproval.

He said that the perception that the use of words like ‘poof’ or ‘gay’ is “just a bit of harmless banter” contributes to homophobic bullying in schools.

“Our objective is nothing less than a fully inclusive society, where all minority groups are valued and respected, and every individual is able to simply be who they are,” he said.

“It’s clear that we aren’t there yet.

“Just one example is the casual use of homophobic language by mainstream radio DJs.

“This is too often seen as harmless banter instead of the offensive insult that it really represents.”

Today Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said:

“Moyles does seem to have some difficulty controlling his offensiveness whether his targets are Jewish people, gay people, black people or young women.

“The BBC’s failure to prevent these sort of remarks being broadcast does strengthen the case for some of the licence fee being given to a broadcaster such as Channel 4 which has a much better track record of delivering public service broadcasting for diverse communities.”