Prime Minister John Key made controversial comments about a "gay red top" the same day as reportedly calling footballer David Beckham "thick".
Key reportedly said Beckham was a nice man but also ''as thick as bat s***'' during a talk with a group of high school students in Dunedin on Friday. He today refused to deny making the comment - but said he had been misheard.
Key flirted with controversy again that day on the Farming Show radio programme when he slagged off host Jamie Mackay for wearing red.
He said the host would not do well in a charity golf event that afternoon because he was wearing ''that gay red top''.
Key had made the remark after offering to donate up to $10,000 for a charity golf tournament if Mackay shot a hole-in-one.
"You're going to be nervous when you line up in those par threes now, aren't you. You're munted mate, you're never going to make it. You've got that gay red top on there."
Rainbow Wellington chairman Tony Simpson said Key may have used the word 'gay' in the broader sense, but it was a peculiar choice.
"We won't get really far as a society if we start walking around calling people names. Hardly seems productive activity."
Gay Auckland Business Association chief executive Gresham Bradley said he wasn't offended by Key's comment, but that it could be taken the wrong way.
"Given the way 'gay' is used today as a derogatory remark I'm a bit surprised he would say that," Bradley said.
"I personally don't take offence from this coming from John Key, who I know to be a very supportive person of the gay community.
''[However] I think he may wish to consider the wisdom of using that word as people could easily misinterpret his meaning."
Key made the "gay red top" comment the same day he allegedly called Beckham "thick".
Beckham, the former England and Manchester United player who now plays for Los Angeles Galaxy, came to New Zealand in December 2008. Key, and his son Max, met him then.
British and Australian media were quick to pick up on reports of the comments.
This morning he said someone thought he called Beckham ''thick'' after overhearing a private conversation.
"That is someone that thinks they've overheard a conversation I've had.
"Somebody has overheard a personal conversation and that's their recollection of it. That's their view.''
He said he would not engage because otherwise he would have to do so every time someone reported his comments.
''The person thought they overheard me saying something,'' he told TVNZ's Breakfast show.
- Fairfax Media
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.