Former vice-president Joe Biden. (Getty)
Joe Biden was heckled by audience members at an event in Seattle for suggesting that homophobic comments were not considered offensive as recently as five years ago.
The former vice president made the comments at a 2020 presidential fundraiser in Seattle on Saturday (June 29). He was intending to suggest that public sentiment toward gay rights issues has come far in a very short period of time.
While the audience was largely supportive of him, they objected to his claim that “if someone at a business meeting in Seattle made fun of a gay waiter [five years ago] people would just let it go.”
His words fell flat with the crowd of around 50 people and the audience rebuffed him, with one person reportedly shouting back, “Not in Seattle!”
He went on to say that if a speaker made homophobic comments today, “that person would not be invited back”.
According to CNN, after Biden said this, “the audience vocally responded to the remark and some in the crowd said homophobic comments would not have gone unchallenged even before five years ago.”
It was an unusual comment to make, not least because Biden himself held the position of vice president five years ago.
The event was hosted by public relations executive Roger Nyhus, who is known as a leader in the Seattle gay rights community. As it was a private fundraiser there is no audio or visual recording of the event, but a reporter was invited to attend.
An outspoken supporter of the LGBT+ community
Biden has long supported America’s LGBT+ community, and he appears to be highlighting this in his bid for the 2020 presidency. He recently bought a round of drinks at the Stonewall Inn on the 50th anniversary of the riots.
Biden made history in 2016 when he carried out a same-sex wedding at the official residence of the vice president, the US Naval Observatory. His backing of marriage equality was also mentioned in his campaign video.
During his time as vice president, he was also instrumental in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, supported allowing trans people to serve in the military and supported LGBT+ rights in many other ways throughout the Obama era.