Outrageous and sick... Jim Allister's fury after Prince George hailed 'a gay icon'
An article labelling four-year-old Prince George as a "gay icon" has angered unionist politicians.
The description of the young royal featured in a piece on the online PinkNews site.
It was condemned by TUV leader Jim Allister as "misjudged" and "sick".
Mr Allister was backed by former party colleague Edwin Poots of the DUP.
Mr Poots yesterday tweeted he was "totally supporting Jim on this one".
However, PinkNews rejected the criticism.
The online article was published after the prince was photographed with his hands on his face in a helicopter in Germany last month.
It said: "Prince George has become a gay icon overnight.
"The monarch-to-be has always been cute and well-dressed, but one day before his fourth birthday, a photo of him excitedly holding his face changed everything."
In a letter to PinkNews, Mr Allister said: "In reality the photo which prompted the piece shows a four-year-old boy who is smartly dressed and excited about being on a helicopter with his male father and female mother.
"To take an image of a little boy and to fantasise of him being an icon for a life defined by sex is outrageous and sick.
"Sexualising a young child in this fashion is entirely inappropriate.
"You should immediately withdraw the article and apologise."
PinkNews denied "sexualising" the child, and said the article was highlighting social media reaction to the picture.
"As Madonna, Lady Gaga, the Babadook and, yes, even Ariana Grande have shown, you don't have to be gay or even have a defined sexuality to be an LGBT icon," it said.
"And if some want to view Prince George in that light - even humorously - in a culture which isn't exactly overwhelmed with LGBT representation, it's hard to see what's wrong with that."
Leading LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell backed the article, saying: "PinkNews merely reported that some people were suggesting Prince George is, in their opinion, a gay icon - as are Joan Collins, David Beckham, Madonna, Brad Pitt and many others. I do not share that view about the young prince but defend the right of people to say it and for PinkNews to report it.
"Being a gay icon has nothing to do with sex or sexuality.
"As a well-known opponent of the LGBT community, it is typical that Jim is twisting things to bash us and have a go at PinkNews."
Benjamin Cohen, chief executive of PinkNews, said he had not yet received the letter from Mr Allister.
"I'm surprised that Jim Allister is such an avid reader of PinkNews that he spotted a minor article from three weeks ago to complain about today," he commented.
"At no point did PinkNews state that Prince George is a 'gay icon' - the article merely reported on a large volume of social media posts saying that he was."
Gavin Boyd from local LGBT organisation The Rainbow Project said in an online article: "Jim sees gay men appreciate a photo of a boy that reminds them of their own youth and instantly sees a threat. This is bias.
"Gay men, and the wider LGBT community, are allowed to value the innocence of children before the world tries to tell them how to act, how to dress, how to talk.
"We are allowed to talk about how this picture reminds us of our own experiences of childhood and how we hope that younger generations don't have to experience the same hardships as ourselves."