Updated October 29 with contestant's reaction

The government has slammed "homophobic" comments aired by a participant on X Factor Malta, insisting that failing to call out the damage caused by ‘conversion therapy’ was risky.

The government was reacting to a statement made by Matthew Grech, an X Factor contestant, during a programme aired on Sunday night. 

Comments about his personal beliefs and a "revelation", which he gave before the audition and aired on the state broadcaster, drew immediate criticism.

The contestant's pre-audition interview led to his videos being pulled from You Tube and Facebook just minutes after his audition was aired.

Mr Grech, a singer and vocal teacher, said he used to lead a homosexual lifestyle until he found Jesus. The convert, a member of the controversial Christian River of Love movement, went on to describe as "sinful" anything that is not marriage between men and women.

He went on to describe as "sinful" anything that is not marriage between men and women

In an official statement, X Factor Malta made it “very clear that no part of Matthew Grech’s original audition was intended to cause offence, nor were the views expressed those of the producers of the programme.”

They would never want anything else to get in the way of talent and music, they added.

In a statement, the government meanwhile insisted that all sexual orientation, gender identity and expression was recognised by Maltese law, and none required change or suppression.

“While the government condemns all such homophobic comments, broadcasting this message, without calling out the harm caused by ‘conversion therapy’ is damaging.

"It puts at risk those youths who are vulnerable to such practices despite Malta’s adoption of strict legislation in 2016.”

The ministries of justice and equality called on youths who are facing challenges through their ‘coming out’ process, to seek help. Help is also at hand for parents.
One may call 2226 3225 to speak with a sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIGESC) representative.

“LGBTIQ people do not need any cure or forgiveness… Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle but is present in all people and manifests itself in affectionate and sexual attraction,” the ministries added.

'My comments were not homophobic'

In an email to Times of Malta, Mr Grech insisted that there was nothing homophobic about his comments. 

"I never claimed that my same-sex attraction was a sin", he said. "However I believe that my sexual practice was sinful. Irrespective of what society thinks, I have a right to believe that a person who has sex with another person of the same gender (irrespective of sexual orientation) is sinning before God," he added. 

Mr Grech also insisted the River of Love Christian group he formed part of "has never advocated straight-gay or gay-straight sexual orientation therapy". 

"We are facing the rise of Christophobia in society," Mr Grech wrote. "I simply recounted my life experience, which happens to differ from what is now a very popular LGBT agenda which seeks to oppress all those who disagree with the LGBT religious beliefs".