Henry homosexuality comments OK

Last updated 17:21 22/02/2010
Paul Henry
PETER MEECHAM/Stuff
NATURALLY: Breakfast host Paul Henry believes homosexuality is 'unnatural, although homosexuality is through all species'.

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The Broadcasting Complaints Authority has declined to uphold a complaint about controversial television presenter Paul Henry saying homosexuality was unnatural.

Henry, co-host of TV One's Breakfast show, made the comments during a discussion about a proposed law change to allow homosexual couples to adopt children.

On the August 20 broadcast, Henry said he was "iffy" about the law change and that homosexuality was "unnatural".

Co-host Alison Mau questioned his remarks and read out viewer feedback, including one that said, "To call this unnatural is ludicrous and narrow-minded. Gay couples are great parents and are more than qualified to raise children."

But Henry said people should not be frightened of saying that homosexuality was unnatural.

"It is unnatural, although homosexuality is through all species," he said.

"I don't know if it's through all species but many, many species. A lot of monkeys are homosexual."

Later in the discussion he said: "The thing is, though, if you go to any animal park, and I've got to be careful what I say here, but if you go to any animal park, you will find monkeys being filthy with each other."

"That is completely beside the point," Mau said.

Complainant Ken Cage said that Mr Henry's comments were offensive and the message conveyed justified "bullying others on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation".

The Free-to-Air Broadcasting Code of Practice says broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, any section of the community because of, among other things, sexual orientation.

The authority found that while the comments were clearly provocative and would have offended some viewers, they were framed in a way that encouraged discussion about the proposed law change.

Opposing views were clearly presented by the programme's co-host, by two MPs interviewed on the programme and in viewer feedback, the authority said.

In light of the freedom of speech requirements of the Bill of Rights, "a high level of invective is necessary for the authority to conclude that a broadcast encourages denigration or discrimination," the decision said.

"The authority considers that on this occasion, particularly in the context of the entire discussion, the host's comments were not sufficiently vitriolic and lacked the necessary invective to reach the threshold for encouraging discrimination against, or denigration of, homosexuals for the purposes of the standard."

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Henry raised public ire in November after referring to intellectually-disabled Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle as "retarded".

Earlier last year the authority found Henry had breached standards of good taste, decency and fairness after he read viewer comments that a female guest, Greenpeace worker Stephanie Mills, had a moustache. He then added his own comments, while co-host Mau pleaded with him to stop.

- NZPA

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