During a discussion segment on the December 23 episode, co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson said the problem with a car’s light-colored leather interior was that it wouldn’t allow the driver to “enjoy a chocolate magnum ice cream.”
Hammond said: ““It’s all right, I don’t eat ice cream… It’s something to do with being straight.”
Elaborating on this point to despairing looks from his colleagues, Hammond added: “There’s nothing wrong with it, but a grown man eating an ice cream—it’s that way, rather than that way.”
The comments sparked criticism on social media.
The official Twitter account for the London Pride LGBT group asked Hammond if he wanted to join the team for a “big gay ice cream.”
Journalist Chris Mandle thought the late George Michael might have something to say about the issue.
The program, which started as a weekly series in November, and its predecessor, the BBC show Top Gear, have a history of controversy.
The latter show came to an end after the BBC fired Clarkson following an “unprovoked physical attack” on a Top Gear producer.
Richard Hammond under fire for 'ice-cream is gay' line on The Grand Tour
|© Amazon Prime Video|
The exchange occurred on Happy Finnish Christmas, the sixth episode of the first season of the show, which was released on Amazon Prime on 23 December.
In front of a live audience, Clarkson pointed to an image of the interior of a Rolls Royce, saying: “The only problem is that in one of those, you couldn’t enjoy a chocolate Magnum ice-cream.”
“It’s all right, I don’t eat ice-cream,” replied Hammond. “It’s something to do with being straight.”
Clarkson and May appeared taken aback as members of the studio audience applauded and cheered.
“Why are you applauding him?” Clarkson, apparently aghast, asked the crowd. “What do you mean? … You’re saying all children are homosexual?”
The Grand Tour is everything that was wrong with Clarkson-era Top Gear
Hammond continued, saying: “Ice-cream is a bit – you know”. He added: “There’s nothing wrong with it, but a grown man eating an ice-cream – it’s that way, rather than that way …
“I’m right. I can’t believe you can’t see that. It’s easy. It’s in front of you.”
Clarkson and Hammond then joked about “the chocolate thingy” in a 99 ice-cream cone, with the latter declaring: “My case rests!”
A spokesman for LGBT equality charity Stonewall said Hammond’s choice of words was not only ridiculous, but “chosen purposefully to mock and belittle”.
“Stonewall trains teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic slurs like these, so to hear this sort of language on television is extremely disappointing and sends the wrong message to young people.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “It is a perverse world when an everyday pleasure like ice cream becomes the butt of homophobic innuendo. That Richard Hammond thinks he needs to boast his heterosexuality is weird ... His pandering to prejudice is bad enough but the audience applause makes it worse. It shows that we still have some way to go to end bigoted banter.”
The exchange was also met with disdain on Twitter. “Excuse me while I gag on my Cornetto,” tweeted Olly Alexander, the lead singer of the British electronic pop trio Years & Years.
Hammond had not responded to any of the criticism on Twitter at time of writing.
The first episode of The Grand Tour broadcast in late November to much interest from fans of Top Gear, following Hammond, May and Clarkson’s departure from the long-running BBC World franchise.
“They open their mouths and suddenly it’s same-old same-old,” wrote Sam Wollaston in his review of the new show for the Guardian. “Nought to racist in less than 10 minutes.”
In the first episode, Clarkson joked that he could not be fired “because we’re on the internet, which means I could pleasure a horse”. On that occasion, Wollaston wrote, it was May and Hammond who looked “faintly embarrassed”.
Richard Hammond's 'ice creams are gay' comment on The Grand Tour sparks furious Twitter backlash as fans blast him for 'homophobic' joke
The Grand Tour has had nothing but praise heaped upon it since its debut in November.
But the show and one of its stars, Richard Hammond, are now at the centre of a furious Twitter backlash following a joke about ice cream and the LGBT community.
After linking eating ice cream to being homosexual in episode six of the show, the 47-year-old presenter's strange comments have prompted cries of outrage on social media.
Responding to Jeremy's confectionery fears, his co-star glibly remarked: 'It's alright, I don't eat ice cream. It's something to do with being straight.'
And while both Clarkson and James May appeared slightly baffled by their co-star's remarks, members of the audience cheered and applauded.
'Why are you applauding him?' A bemused Jeremy asked the crowd. 'What do you mean... you're saying all children are homosexual?'
Richard then replied: 'Ice cream is a bit - you know... There's nothing wrong with it, but a grown man eating an ice cream - it's that way, rather than that way.'
But just days after the episode went live across the Amazon streaming service on 23 December, social media has gone into meltdown, with many outraged over the 'awful' and 'homophobic' joke.
One user @ProducerOllie flagged the exchange on Twitter, writing: 'Hello & here's the full richard hammond 'ice creams are gay' piece and year, it's awful [sic].'
Posted on Boxing Day at 11:08pm, the tweet has since received over 2,471 likes and 1,786 re-tweets - prompting Richard Hammond to trend along with the hashtag #icecreamgate.
Many users on the site agreed with Ollie's views, such as @SCO_DPP who responded to the tweet, writing: 'These statements normalise homophobia and intolerance. Watched by millions too... disgusted by Hammond there. #LGBT.'
Others clearly felt just as strongly, and many mocked Richard for his comment in their responses.
One user, @holed001, quipped: 'Has anyone got the exact right time? My kitchen clock says 9.36, my alarm clock says 9.40 and Richard Hammond thinks it's 1953.'
Another, @jonbeher, tweeted: 'Richard Hammond frantically bats a Calippo out of his son's grasp. It is too late. His son jazz hands his way to the sandpit.'
However, many Twitter users were incensed at the remarks, while other Twitter users sought to defend Hammond's remarks.
One, @kt_oneill, blasted: 'Richard Hammond's slimy existence revolves around feeling accepted by gobs***es like Clarkson. What a f***ing embarrassment of a life.'
On the other side of the fence, @therealbigyid wrote: 'All the problems in the world and people worry about a comment from @RichardHammond seriously some people need to get a life #growup [sic].'
Richard has made no move to respond to the matter online, with his account's last tweet posted on Friday following the release of the episode.
MailOnline has contacted a representative of the presenter for comment on the matter.