STEPS pop star Ian “H” Watkins has criticised a magistrate who made anti-gay slurs in a television documentary.
The gay singer says he was “dumb-founded” when veteran JP Byron Butler told him people believe gays are paedophiles.
Watkins had returned to his home to make the documentary The Only Gay in the Village about his life growing up as a homosexual in the Rhondda valley.
Mr Butler, a magistrate for 30 years, was stopped in the street by Watkins as part of a series of candid “vox pop” interviews about people’s attitudes to gays.
Married Mr Butler, 67, told him, “We haven’t got much time for them. Well, I think probably it’s a suspicion of the mainstream that they perhaps will interfere with young people and so on and that’s historically been the case.
“That is the danger. Paedophiles, not necessarily but they do, don’t they, that’s the reality.”
Watkins, a former Celebrity Big Brother contestant and now West End star, last night called for Mr Butler to be stripped of his JP role.
The 31-year-old said, “I was dumb-founded by his comments and I was even more shocked when I found out he is a magistrate sitting in judgement on people.
“There is no way I believe he can be fair and impartial with people when he makes comments about gay people being paedophiles. It is just so outrageous. There is absolutely no evidence to back up what he says and it is very offensive. The world has changed and Wales has changed so much.”
Watkins, who had a series of hits such as Tragedy, Better the Devil You Know, Chain Reaction and 5,6,7,8, spoke of his difficulties growing up in the Rhondda on the programme.
He said, “When I returned home to make the documentary I was pleased at how much attitudes have changed and how people are more open-minded.
“Then when I was interviewing people on the street I asked for his opinions because he seemed like a jolly little man. He came out with a load of garbage although he clearly meant it. I’m used to coming across idiots with strange views but they normally shut up when there is a camera on them.
“But this guy just started spouting out his views like they were perfectly acceptable. Someone from the BBC later told me this guy is a magistrate. It is just appalling and I hope he will never sit in a court again. I hope they fully investigate him although it is quite disturbing that he was allowed to be a magistrate at all with bigoted views like that.”
Viewers recognised Mr Butler as a senior magistrate and Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Mid Glamorgan – deputising for the Lord Lieutenant who is the Queen’s official representative in the county. A complaint about his comments was made to the Office of Judicial Complaints after the programme was screened, saying his comments were not appropriate for a JP.
Now Mr Butler could be asked to resign or made to undergo additional training if the complaint is upheld. He has agreed not to sit as a magistrate while the investigation takes place.
A spokesman for the Judicial Communications Office said, “While the Office of Judicial Complaints is looking into the matter Mr Butler has voluntarily agreed not to sit.”
Martyn Williams, webmaster of the Gay Bridgend website, welcomed the investigation into Mr Butler’s comments.
“It’s absolutely disgusting,” he said. “If he is a magistrate he should be open-minded to everybody and any minority group.
“He’s suggesting all gay guys are paedophiles. I’m quite surprised that attitude is still there.”
Mr Butler declined to comment.