Sir Elton John has said the reaction to Phillip Schofield’s affair with a younger colleague is “totally homophobic”.
In an interview with the Radio Times, the 76-year-old singer claimed a heterosexual relationship with a similar age gap would not have attracted such negative coverage.
Sir Elton made the comments as he denounced the status of LGBT+ rights and individuals in America, which he compared to the treatment of the former This Morning presenter.
The acclaimed musician, famous for hits including Your Song and Candle In The Wind, said: “Well, it’s all going pear-shaped in America. There’s violence, (discriminatory) laws enacted in Florida, which are disgraceful.
“There’s a law now that, if you visit a doctor in Florida, they can refuse to treat you if you’re gay, which I find just unbelievable.
“We seem to be going backwards. And that spreads. It’s like a virus that the LGBTQ+ movement is suffering.”
He added: “I don’t like it at all. It’s a growing swell of anger and homophobia that’s around America.
“I don’t know if it’s around Britain because I haven’t been here that much. But I feel that the Phillip Schofield thing has been totally homophobic.
“If it was a straight guy in a fling with a young woman, it wouldn’t even make the papers.”
Schofield resigned from ITV last month and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male runner on This Morning.
During an interview with the BBC’s Amol Rajan, the 61-year-old said he had “lost everything” after admitting to the affair, and that the fallout had had a “catastrophic effect” on his mind.
He also alleged to the Sun that homophobia had motivated criticism towards him, contrasting responses to his affair and Leonardo DiCaprio’s relationships with younger women.
Schofield said: “Attraction is attraction. It’s no different in the gay world as it is in the heterosexual world or in the lesbian world.
“There shouldn’t be a difference. This is where homophobia comes in.
“We did first meet when he was 15, I visited the drama school (he attended).
“So, yeah, there’s a difference. It’s accepted by Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s not accepted if it’s in the gay world.”
Sir Elton, who will headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival this month with a performance that will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2 on June 25, joins other high-profile figures in criticising the backlash against Schofield.
LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said earlier this month that the “trashing” of Schofield had “more than a whiff of homophobia”, in a statement shared with the PA news agency.
Tatchell called the public response a “rank double standard”, while actor Rupert Everett described media coverage as “insane”.
The full interview is in the Radio Times, out now.