Sir Elton John has said the reaction to Phillip Schofield’s secret affair with a younger colleague was “totally homophobic”.
The 76-year-old singer claimed a heterosexual relationship with a similar age gap would not have attracted such negative media coverage.
“I feel that the Phillip Schofield thing has been totally homophobic,” he told the Radio Times.
“If it was a straight guy in a fling with a young woman, it wouldn’t even make the papers.”
Schofield, 61, departed ITV programme This Morning last month after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a younger male colleague, which he had lied about for years.
The fallout saw ITV announce an external review, and bosses at the broadcaster were called to give evidence in parliament about claims of a “toxic” workplace.
Schofield apologised in a statement on social media and during subsequent interviews with The Sun and the BBC, saying he had “lost everything” while also alleging homophobia had motivated the criticism of him.
“It’s accepted by Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s not accepted if it’s in the gay world,” he claimed.
LGBTQ+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and actor Rupert Everett also criticised the reaction to the affair.
Tatchell said it had “more than a whiff of homophobia”, while Everett described it as “insane”.
ITV questioning as it happened
What we learned from Philip Schofield’s interviews
Sir Elton’s comments came as he denounced the treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the US as “disgraceful”.
“It’s all going pear-shaped in America,” said the Rocketman performer.
“There’s violence, (discriminatory) laws enacted in Florida, which are disgraceful.”
Among the legislation introduced by Governor Ron DeSantis are school teachers being banned from giving lessons about sexual orientation, and doctors being given permission to deny treatments to LGBTQ+ patients.
Sir Elton said hate towards his community was spreading “like a virus”.
His interview with the Radio Times comes ahead of his performance at Glastonbury this weekend.
The I’m Still Standing star will headline the festival’s Pyramid Stage on 25 June.