Users including the British LGBT Awards have turned to the social media site to condemn “transphobic comments” made by the presenter
Twitter users are hitting back over comments apparently made by the Today programme presenter earlier this morning.
— British LGBT Awards (@BritLGBTAwards) October 6, 2017
The BBC Radio 4 presenter was interviewing Salman Rushdie about his new book which discusses gender identity.
— Boom Ting (@that_boom_ting) October 6, 2017
The programme, which is now available to listen to on the BBC Radio iPlayer, included the following comments from presenter John Humphrys and author Salman Rushdie who were discussing the themes of the author’s newest novel The Golden House:
Salman Rushdie: “New York city is in a way, not America, New York city is itself. I mean remember that 90% of New York voted against Trump, so it’s er, so it’s quite unlike much of the country and I mean it still feels like New York and, yeah, it feels alright, but there are parts of America, I think where, particularly if you’re a person, you know, if you’re an African American, etc, there’s good reason to be afraid of much of America.”
John Humphrys: “And it’s changing in so many ways isn’t it, there are questions and you raise them in the book intriguingly about sexual identity.”
SD: “Yeah, one of the things I wanted to do was to try and catch the things that are in the air, you know, and generally the subject of identity is so huge these days and it means different things in different places. You know, like here I think the whole Brexit issue was rooted in an idea of England, you know, which may or may not have ever existed. And in India, gender, I mean identity is really has to do with religious identity, it has much more to do with Hindu Muslim issues. In America now if you talk about identity, you’re usually talking either about race or gender, and both those things – cuts out briefly – huge subjects and so I wanted to address it. So there’s a character in the novel who is very conflicted about um his, later her, gender, and it was a way of trying to deal, to deal seriously…”
JD: [Interupting] “Whether he’s a man or a woman with a penis?”
SR: “Um… you said that John.”
JH: “Well, you sort of did… yes. Quite.”
After the comment by Humphrys, Rushdie appears to be shocked, pausing before his reply. Humphrys trips over his words a little as he continues and moves onto the next question.
The BBC has not yet released a statement. More to follow.