David Furnish is well known as a gay rights campaigner, AIDS activist and of course Sir Elton John’s husband.
In conversation with Sky’s Beth Rigby, he covered a range of subjects from homophobia, trans rights and Prince Harry, to Sir Elton playing Glastonbury on Sunday, amazingly for the first time in a 50 year musical career.
As an outspoken advocate of gay rights he denounced the tone of the media coverage of the disgraced TV presenter Phillip Schofield as “horrifying to watch”.
He said: “Without question, Phillip Schofield, and Elton agrees, behaved inappropriately. It could be perceived as an abuse of power.
“What was horrifying to watch was what I would call a disproportionate response within certain levels of the media, where it was written about over and over and over, where they were piling on for days and then weeks, continually writing negative, highly critical pieces.”
Read more: Phillip Schofield affair reaction was ‘totally homophobic’, says Sir Elton John
He claimed the Schofield scandal – where the presenter left ITV last month after admitting to an affair with a younger colleague on This Morning – unfairly got more coverage than Boris Johnson did for misleading parliament over partygate.
“If you weighed up the column inches that they gave to Phillip Schofield… and what happened with Boris Johnson…You will find a great, great difference. And that, to me, points to homophobia.”
He added that Schofield’s actions were a “colossal error in judgement” but the media’s response “felt like homophobia”.
“I don’t think we would have had the same response if it had been between a man and a woman. They would not let it go.”
Furnish revealed as much as he could about his husband’s final UK set this weekend, on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, saying Sir Elton would bring on “four collaborators of his choosing”.
When pressed as to who the mystery quartet were, Furnish said: “Sorry. I am sworn to secrecy.”
But he hinted that the legendary singer’s final performance would contain “a different setlist” with “a lot of changes”.
He added Sir Elton would carry on with musical endeavours following his farewell tour, which ends next month.
“I don’t think he’ll be sitting on the sofa with a remote control,” Furnish joked. “He’s going to go back into the studio in October and start his next album. Which will be great. He’s not done a studio album in a long time.”
‘Admiration” for JK Rowling but ‘bringing people together’ crucial
With transgender issues featuring in sport, education and politics, Furnish diplomatically addressed JK Rowling’s stance on transgenderism.
Furnish said: “I have tremendous admiration for what J.K. has done with Harry Potter and how she has made so many children rediscover the joy of reading, and brought families together in a way that no one has done for a very, very long time.
“I don’t like to see any community singled out, or stigmatised, and I think when you have a platform like she has, if I was in her shoes, I would direct it towards doing what I do best, which is bringing people together my through my work and through my art, and my culture.”
Prince Harry ‘doing really well’
As the conversation moved to phone hacking making the headlines, Furnish, who previously revealed he and Sir Elton felt “paternal and protective” over Prince Harry said he is doing “great” after giving evidence in court.
Furnish said: “[Harry’s] taken a lot of flack in the media, and you have to remember he’s taking on the media.
“But we are in fairly regular contact, and he was very pleased the way things went in court. And he’s doing really well”.
Furnish confident on ending AIDS epidemic by 2030
As a gay man, Furnish recalled his personal struggles coming out at a time when the stigma around HIV/AIDS was high.
“It was terrifying because initially there wasn’t even a test to find out whether you had AIDS or not. Gay men were just dying these very horrible, heavily stigmatised deaths.”
Furnish didn’t disclose his sexuality during his twenties due to being terrified of the stigma attached and the lack of treatments for the virus.
He said: “It was awful. I watched so many friends waste away, and it was heartbreaking. It was a scary time”.
The Canadian filmmaker is the Chairman of the Elton John Aids Foundation and spoke about his ambition to help with reducing the spread of the infection within the next six years.
He said: “The great thing is, we know where the problem lies and the science is so good we have the tools to effect the change that we need to affect. We can stop and create a world with no new HIV infections. We just need the funds and the resources.
“It doesn’t mean there will be an end to AIDS completely. But in terms of the point where we define it as an epidemic… we won’t be in that area anymore.
“We’ve gone from a disease that arrived in the eighties, for which there was no hope within our lifetime [to one] we think we can end – end completely”.
You can watch the full interview with David Furnish on BETH RIGBY INTERVIEWS at 9pm tonight on Sky News.