A cartoon appearing in the Sunday edition of Illum has sparked outrage and been deemed homophobic after it appeared online.
The image by Mikiel Gauci, which seems to show a flamboyant man wearing pink attempting to buy pastizzi, has garnered tons of negative comments online from members of the gay community. It has now been removed from the Illum Facebook page.
The caricature when it was posted on Facebook earlier today
Speaking to Lovin Malta, the editor of Illum, Albert Gauci Cunningham, said the cartoon was not meant to offend anyone, and was merely a reflection of everyday conversation found in some parts of Maltese society
“I apologise if there were any people that were offended by this cartoon,” he said. “Our aim was definitely not to offend; it’s a caricature, and we’ve had caricatures with various different people throughout the years without getting a reaction like this.”
Gauci Cunningham, who is openly gay himself and spent years campaigning for gay rights, pointed to his media house’s record as proof that they are pro-gay rights.
“I think the record of the newspaper and my personal record speak for themselves. We were the newspapers that pushed for the differences in blood donation recently, and we were also one of the newspapers who, along with Lovin Malta, gave a lot of editorial space in favour of equal rights – we have always been at the forefront,” he said. “However, I apologise if this caricature offended anyone in any sense or form.”
Many commenters on Facebook found the cartoon objectionable, saying it was in very bad taste
While some people took the cartoon with a pinch of humour, most people were overwhelmingly critical of the cartoon, with many people from the gay community calling out the artist and newspaper for publishing such an image.