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Tesco apologises after 'Gay best friend' doll blows up into a PR disaster


The supermarket giant Tesco has apologised for advertising an inflatable “gay best friend” doll on its website. The figure was described as being “ready to give you fashion advice, tell you if your bum looks big and b**ch about everyone who doesn’t wear Jimmy Choos”.

The figure, which was described as an “amusing gift” and “suitable for three- to four-year-olds”, appeared with the description: “If SEX in the City and Will & Grace taught us anything, it’s that g*y best friends are in this season. We’ve had the manbag, we’ve had leg warmers and iPhone fever, now it’s time for the new craze.”

The UK’s biggest retailer said it had removed the “offensive item” and that the product had not been sold. But it comes days after it was forced to remove a Halloween costume labelled “psycho ward” from its shelves. The bright orange costume had the word “committed” written on the back.

Asda also apologised earlier this week after it advertised a “mental patient” costume which showed someone covered in blood and holding a machete. Critics said both costumes stigmatised people with mental health issues. Twitter users reacted angrily yesterday to the inflatable doll, as well as to the supermarket’s decision to use an asterisk in the middle of the word “gay.” Activist Peter Tatchell tweeted: “Can @Tesco explain its G*y Best Friend doll? Why is the word gay censored? Why does the doll pander to stereotypes?”

A Tesco spokesperson said the product was uploaded to the website by a third party seller, but was “removed from sale immediately because we found it offensive.”

She added: The webpage should have been removed at that time and we are looking into why it is still visible two months later. We have very clear guidelines for third party sellers who list items on our website, and are very sorry that on this occasion they weren’t followed.”

The Stonewall Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill, said: ‘This is like trying to sell ice to Eskimos. We can’t imagine why any woman would choose to buy an inflatable gay best friend when there are two million of the real thing already available in modern Britain and most of them are much better looking than Tesco’s pale imitation.”

The product was still advertised on Amazon’s website yesterday afternoon, for the price of £3.20. The company did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.