Death threats, homophobia and boycotts over Tom Daley baby news


The announcement by Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Lance Black that they are having a baby has been met with a homophobic backlash against the family.

While the response to the happy news was largely positive, a stream of abusive reactions online and in the mainstream media made it clear that anti-LGBTQ bigotry remains a reality in the UK.

The couple started receiving death threats and insults almost immediately after they posted pictures on Instagram of themselves holding an ultrasound scan of their baby on Valentine’s Day.

A spokesperson for Daley confirmed that the men, who married in May 2017, were expecting their first child this year, presumably via a surrogate.

“The baby should stay with the mother and be brought up in a normal home,” reacted one troll, while another wrote, “Die f*gs”. The couple were also warned that their “choices will lead you to hell…” and were urged to “repent”.

One man wrote on Twitter that he was “disgusted by hearing that Tom Daley news” and said his 11-year-old son had asked him, “Dad how can he have a baby if he’s a battyboy [a Jamaican anti-gay slur]?”

Black and Daley’s family also became the subject of a homophobic and transphobic article by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, under the headline of, “Please don’t pretend two dads is the new normal”.

“Pass the sick bag…” he wrote about the couple’s news, calling it a “publicity stunt”. He asked where the mother was, questioning if she was simply an “anonymous incubator”. He accused the couple of being among those who treat women as “mere breeding machines and babies as commodities” and “fashion accessories”.

Littlejohn also ranted about recent news that a transgender woman had, through hormone therapy, been able to breastfeed her baby. He insisted that, “someone in possession of a full set of wedding tackle is a man, not a woman”.

Littlejohn concluded his article: “Stop pretending this is the new normal. Not in our house, it isn’t. Nor, I suspect, in yours or 99.99 per cent of the rest of the world, either.

“Still, I’m looking forward to the photos of Tom Daley breastfeeding his new baby,” he added sarcastically.

A number of companies have now pulled their advertising from the Daily Mail over the column. These include vegetarian food producer Quorn, gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA), NatWest and Halifax banks, internet streaming service Now TV and European holiday accommodation company Center Parcs.

“We take where we advertise very seriously and have a number of steps to prevent our advertising from appearing alongside inappropriate content,” said Center Parcs in a Tweet. “We felt this placement was completely unacceptable and therefore ceased advertising with the Daily Mail with immediate effect.”

The group Stop Funding Hate welcomed the boycott. It tweeted: “Customers speaking out to challenge media hate is all about free speech:The Mail can print what it likes, but we’re also allowed to say ‘not with my money!’. It’s a misrepresentation to claim that the right to free expression obliges the rest of us to subsidise bigotry.”

On Friday, Black responded to the abuse on his Instagram account. “My reaction to others’ hate, bigotry & misinformation will not include anger or hate,” he wrote. “For me, the path forward is lit with curiosity, listening, correcting the record when possible, and as best I can, leading with an example of strength & love.”

Daley, 23, who won bronze medals for diving at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, came out as bisexual in 2013 and then clarified a few months later that he identifies as gay.

Black, 43, won an Academy Award for his script for the acclaimed 2008 film Milk, about the life of openly gay politician and activist Harvey Milk.


A post shared by Tom Daley (@tomdaley) on

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