Richard Hammond faces backlash for saying he doesn’t understand why people come out as gay

'The Grand Tour' star also addresses ice cream remark controversy

Richard Hammond has been criticised for saying that he doesn’t understand why people feel the need to come out publicly, adding: “It is so old-fashioned to make a big deal of it”.

The Grand Tour star was speaking to The Sunday Times when he was asked about a controversial comment he previously made about not eating ice cream because he’s “straight”.

Hammond told the Times that he didn’t mean to cause offence with the ice cream remark, saying: “It was certainly not what I set out to do. I wouldn’t want to cause genuine difficulty for anyone.”

He added: “Look, anyone who knows me knows I wasn’t being serious, that I’m not homophobic. Love is love, whatever the sex of the two people in love.”

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The former Top Gear host then went on to say: “It may be because I live in a hideously safe and contained middle-class world, where a person’s sexuality is not an issue, but when I hear of people in the media coming out, I think, why do they even feel the need to mention it?”

“It is so old-fashioned to make a big deal of it. That isn’t even an interesting thing to say at a dinner party any more,” he said.

Hammond’s comments have been widely criticised online. One Twitter user wrote: “Oppression of LGBT people is still real. It still exits. It still costs lives. Being out and proud is just one way we can tackle and deal with discrimination and oppression.”

Another said: “Why do we feel the need to mention it, @RichardHammond? Because someone like @MarkFosterSwim [Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, who recently came out as gay] coming out provides a role model for a young LGBT person who might be struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.”

Hammond has not yet responded to this latest backlash.