Gay Times editor sacked over offensive tweets fronted campaign for online safe spaces

Josh Rivers was fired for racist and transphobic posts days after fronting advertising campaign for gay dating app which rails against 'prejudicial language and attitudes'

Chris Baynes
Friday 17 November 2017 19:30 GMT
Sacked Gay Times editor features in dating app advert campaigning for an online space that is "safe and fun, not rude and abusive"

The editor of Gay Times who was sacked after it emerged he had previously posted a series of racist and transphobic tweets had fronted a campaign for online safe spaces just days before losing his job.

Josh Rivers called for people to behave respectfully to each other online in adverts for a dating app for gay men.

Chappy pledges to provide a safe space in which "discrimination by race, religion, disability, gender identity, age or anything else is strictly forbidden".

It urges users to pledge to "commit to treating their fellow members with respect, kindness and honesty, without judgement or bias".

Mr Rivers was fired when it emerged that between 2010 and 2015 he had sent a series of offensive tweets.

One anti-Semitic post said: "Jews are gross". Another mocked a transgender person as looking "like a crackhead". He also mocked children with learning disablities.

Mr Rivers, a former marketing manager, was suspended earlier this week and later sacked.

He has previously described the Chappy campaign as "deeply encouraging, and a welcome first step towards making dating apps more welcoming places for our community, in all its wondrous diversity."

After the offensive posts emerged, the app removed Mr Rivers from a promotional video in which he prominently featured and said he would no longer play a role in the campaign.

In a statement issued to The Independent, its co-founder Ollie Locke said: "It saddens us to see the tweets Josh Rivers, editor, Gay Times made between 2010 and 2015. Whilst we accept he is a different person entirely today - one that is dedicated to creating equality and diversity - it is incredibly disappointing.

"It's important to state that we had no reason to believe Josh ever felt that way, about anyone. To our knowledge, he had only ever displayed a relentless passion for inclusion, empathy, understanding and ensuring there was a platform for the voices that are so seldom heard. It was that passion that led to his appointment as Gay Times editor."

Mr Rivers has apologised for the offensive tweets and said he had been "a really unhappy person who lashed out at the world around him” when he wrote them.

He later tweeted: “To every single person who is hurt, offended and disappointed: I’m sorry. The tweets are horrible. They are abhorrent. They are ugly. They are so hateful. These tweets from my past show a deep self-loathing that I’ve worked hard to overcome. I have long taken steps to address the issues that prevented me from treating people with the respect and kindness I value so dearly now.”

In a statement,Gay Times said: "We sincerely apologise for the offence that has been caused, particularly to those members of our wider community to whom such inappropriate and unacceptable commentary was the focus."

It added that it did "not tolerate such views and will continue to strive to honour and promote inclusivity."

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