Former Top Gear host Richard Hammond has questioned why gay people feel the need to come out publicly.

The TV presentersaid he believed it was “old-fashioned” to make a big deal out of a person’s sexuality as he defended a controversial joke from last year in which he implied that eating ice cream is ‘gay’.

Hammond was widely criticised last December after remarking during an episode of Amazon motoring series The Grand Tour that his decision not to eat ice cream was “something to do with being straight”.

Almost a year on from the controversy, the 47-year-old told The Times: “Look, anyone who knows me knows I wasn’t being serious, that I’m not homophobic. Love is love, whatever the sex of the two people in love.”

In the same week that Stonewall’s School Report found that almost half of young LGBT people still face bullying at school, Hammond went on to question why gay people felt the need to come out publicly.

“It may be because I live in a hideously safe and contained middle-class world, where a person’s sexuality is not an issue. But when I hear of people in the media coming out, I think, why do they even feel the need to mention it?” he said.

“It is so old-fashioned to make a big deal of it. That isn’t even an interesting thing to say at a dinner party any more.”

Hammond’s remarks come less than a week since Olympic swimmer and BBC pundit Mark Foster came out publicly as gay, saying that he wanted to be “authentic” after years of hiding his sexuality from fans and the media.

The British sporting hero is set to open up about his rocky road to self-acceptance in the new issue of Winq magazine, coming this Thursday, December 6, which will hopefully make it clearer to people like Richard Hammond just why it’s so important for LGBT to be visible.

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