'The Teletubbies are not gay'

Updated on May 31, 2007 02:00 PM IST
A Polish ombudsman clears the air about the charges of homosexuality dangling over the British telly show for infants.
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AFP | By, Warsaw

Poland's child rights ombudsman said Wednesday that she no longer suspected "The Teletubbies", the British television show for infants, of promoting homosexuality.

Ewa Sowinska, who had earlier announced her suspicions about the Teletubby named Tinky Winky, said that her fears had been allayed by an expert.

"The opinion of a leading sexologist, who maintained that this series has no negative effects on a child's psychology, is perfectly credible," she said in a statement Wednesday.

"As a result I have decided that it is no longer necessary to seek the opinion of other psychologists." On Monday Sowinska, a former lawmaker from the far-right, ultra-Catholic League of Polish Families (LPR), had said she was planning to gather a group of experts to investigate "The Teletubbies."

The plump purple creature Tinky Winky is considered male due to his relative height, but carries a handbag. "I have heard that this could be a hidden homosexual insinuation," said Sowinska in an interview published Monday in the weekly magazine Wprost.

She subsequently faced widespread criticism and ridicule, even within her own political camp. Education minister and LPR leader Roman Giertych, who is regularly accused of making openly homophobic statements, jokingly swapped his daughter's Teletubby toy for a handbag belonging to a journalist during an interview.

Sowinska was also admonished by Poland's deputy speaker of parliament Ludwik Dorn, who told her to avoid public statements that could make the ombudsman's office look "ridiculous."

Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po -- the four chubby luminous-coloured furry figures with aerials on their heads and television sets in their bellies -- appeared on BBC television for the first time in 1997.

Their antics have since been screened in 120 countries and translated into 45 languages. When the show was first broadcast in the United States, the late Christian campaigner Jerry Falwell also took exception to Tinky Winky's accessory.

Tinky Winky was "modelling the gay lifestyle", Falwell charged in 1999, unintentionally sparking a rush for Teletubby merchandise on America's gay scene.

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