Updated | X Factor contestant's gay conversion comments trigger backlash

A contestant on last night's edition of X Factor made disparaging remarks on homosexuality before judges put him through to the next round, but viewers on social media were not so forgiving

Matthew Grech
Matthew Grech

Comments made by a contestant on X Factor Malta's Sunday episode have triggered a backlash over social media, with many protesting the show producers' decision to air the anti-gay comments.

Matthew Grech, a vocal teacher and member of controversial anti-gay Christian group River of Love, described homosexuality as a sin in comments aired before he went in for his audition. The judges put him through to the next round of the singing competition.

But many people took to social media to voice their displeasure and disgust with Grech's anti-gay remarks.

Grech, formerly homosexual himself, reminisced about his 'sinful' ways prior to 'finding God'. "I used to lead a homosexual lifestyle and then I found God," he said, "For a long time, I stopped following my passions to follow Jesus. There can be love between two men or two women, yes. But only friendship love. Everything else is a sin."

The clips with his comments have since been removed from Facebook and Youtube but X Factor Malta have yet to provide a follow-up statement to the backlash. Matthew Grech's audition, however, remains online. Several comments on the Youtube video suggested that what the contestant had done was illegal. Another attacked X Factor, saying, "shame on you for airing this. His comments were disrespectful, and he shouldn't have been there in the first place let alone pass for the second round. This 'guy' is sick."

In 2016, the promotion of gay conversion therapy was made illegal in Malta. Such brazen comments from a member of an openly anti-gay group ostensibly promoting such therapy were still aired in yesterday's X Factor Malta episode.

In the meantime, River of Love pastor, Gordon-John Manche, published a post on Facebook calling the ones criticising X Factor producers hypocrites. "Freedom of Speech," he said. "It's OK to blapsheme and offend God, but talking about how Jesus Christ changed someone's life is prohibited."

Official Statement of X Factor Malta

In an official statement on X Factor Malta's Facebook page, a spokesperson said that Matthew Grech's original audition was not meant to cause offence and that the contestant's opinions were not in any way endorsed by the producers.

Comments on X Factor's public post were not too sympathetic however with some claiming that if X Factor is truly only concerned with music and talent, then Matthew Grech's anti-gay views should not have been aired. Some said that his opinions could have been edited out or Grech could have been told to redo the interview.