Tesco are under fire from Manchester LGBT charities after an inflatable ‘Gay Best Friend’ doll was listed on their website.
The inflatable censors the word gay as ‘g*y’ alongside the word ‘b**ch’ and spouts lines such as ‘you go girlfriend’.
The doll’s character is also described as loving to ‘shop and dance’.
The Lesbian and Gay Foundation has blasted the product and deemed its advertisement on Tesco’s website as a ‘big fail’ from the supermarket giant.
An LGF representative, Andrew Gilliver, said: “It’s supposed to funny but it’s very one dimensional. Why is it funny to have a gay best friend?
“When we are having difficulty from kids at school who are having problems with bullying and homophobia, this product isn’t going to help.”
Mr Gilliver was also concerned with the abundance of stereotypes surrounding the doll and warned that it risked narrowing the perception of the gay community.
“The premise is that you need a gay person to tell you how to dress because they’re hairdressers and stylist but they’re also footballers and mechanics,” he said.
The concept of a gay best friend was popularised by television shows such as Sex and the City and Will & Grace, which the packaging of the product alludes to.
However Mr Gilliver explained that the doll trivialises the bonds that women can have with gay men.
“If you want a gay best friend go and meet some in the community, there are plenty of organisations and in some cases plenty of people in need of a friend,” he said.
A Tesco spokesperson has today apologised for the doll appearing on their website.
“This product was uploaded to the website by a third party seller but was removed from sale immediately because we found it offensive,” they said.
“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 supermarket runs a popular programme – Out at Tesco – for their LGBT staff. The scheme boasts a membership of 900 people across all Tesco businesses.
A number of their staff participated in the parade at this year’s Gay Pride Festival in Manchester.
Tesco faced criticism earlier this week for stocking a Halloween costume depicting a mental health patient as a ‘psycho.’ The store speedily withdrew the product and apologised for ‘any offence caused.’