Controversial right-wing journalist Milo Yiannopolous has been dropped from speaking at a major US political conference after a podcast emerged in which he appeared to endorse sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men”.
Mr Yiannopoulos, a senior editor at Breitbart News, was due to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. The conference, which will be headlined by Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and top White House aides, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, is due to start on Wednesday.
But Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, said that a decision had been taken to disinvite Mr Yiannopoulos. It followed the emergence of a podcast from last year in which the Breitbart editor appeared to condone paedophilia.
In the recently resurfaced episode of “The Drunken Peasants” podcast, Mr Yiannopoulos recalled his own sexual abuse as a teen and did not condemn similar relationships between children and men.
He said young boys “discover who they are” through such relationships, even when they’re sexual in nature, and can give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable rock where they can’t speak to their parents”.
A host of the podcast then said: “Sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me.”
“I’m grateful for Father Michael,” Mr Yiannopoulos replied, saying his sexual performance had been helped as a result.
Mr Schlapp, said in a statement: “Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, Mr Yiannopoulos said he “deeply regret[s]” the way his comments were interpreted, and stressed that he is “horrified by pedophilia” and said he has “devoted large portions of my careers as a journalist to exposing child abusers”.
“I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim,” he wrote.
“My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous. But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humour might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, ‘advocacy’.”
Earlier this month, Mr Yiannopoulos was at the centre of controversy earlier this month, when protesters at the University of California at Berkeley campus caused up to $100,000 in damage over a planned speech by him.