Sherif accuses Love Island bosses of ‘unconscious bias’ over gender and race

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Sherif Lanre has accused Love Island bosses of ‘unconscious bias’ over gender and race (BBC Two/Victoria Derbyshire/PA)

Former Love Island contestant Sherif Lanre has accused the ITV show’s producers of having an “unconscious bias” against men.

He also said he feels there is an unconscious racial bias within the programme, and that the producers give people of colour “less air time”.

Sherif said he agreed with the ITV2 show’s bosses that he should leave the villa as he contravened the rules and regulations after accidentally hitting a female contestant and using the C-word.

However, he told BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire that his actions were taken “completely out of context” and that women are less likely to be penalised for their actions than men.

He said: “People who saw me on the show, people that know me personally will know that’s not something I’d have done with malicious intent.”

Sherif said he believes the main reason he was removed was because of his “crude language”.

Asked by Derbyshire about last year’s series of the show, where Ellie Brown used the C-word in a fight with Georgia Steel but was not removed from the programme, Sherif said: “I think there’s this whole thing I was saying about – an unconscious bias.

“I feel that the people who are in charge of the show maybe have an unconscious bias around rules and regulations for boys and girls, and maybe different races and stuff like that.

“But I feel like with the Ellie situation, I didn’t even know about it until I came home, but, yes, I feel like in that instance it was directed at someone and that was used with a bit more malicious intent, whereas mine was used more as kind of like a joke, but in hindsight it wasn’t acceptable and it’s quite a vile word.”

He added: “I feel like there’s a lot less of a rope for men and I feel like you can get pulled up on things a lot easier.”

Sherif said his bottom was “slapped a few times” by women while he was in the villa, adding that he was “not offended” and had no problem with it.

He said: “But I feel like if that was a boy doing that to a girl in the villa, it might have been seen a different way.

“It’s all to do with the perspective of the people who are in charge of the show.”

Sherif was removed from the programme last week and, following days of secrecy around his exit, he told the Sun on Sunday that he was thrown out for kicking Molly-Mae Hague in the crotch and then joking about his actions using bad language, telling fellow islander Tommy Fury: “That’s a c*** punt.”

Asked about an element of unconscious racial bias, Sherif – who has also accused a contestant of using racist language in the villa – said: “I’m not going to point any fingers, but I feel like in the casting process they expect you to couple up with certain people based on what you’ve said and what they think is the norm.

“I also think that, with the air time, statistically I know there’s 24 hours a day you’re filmed and only one hour is shown of that each night, but I feel like the air time which contestants of my race and races similar to mine was very disproportionate to our value in the villa.

“I feel like we did a lot more to keep the villa together and we did a lot more socially in the villa.”

He said he did not watch the first few series of Love Island, but suggested that show producers “obviously want to give the viewers the content that they feel they want”.

A Love Island spokesman said: “We would strongly refute any accusation of racism and we are unaware of any other Islanders using racist language.

“All of the Islanders are treated fairly and in accordance with our duty of care. We would like this to be made abundantly clear.”

On the suggestion of sexism, the spokesman said: “We take any instance of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and we speak to all of the islanders to remind them of what we condone to be acceptable behaviour during their time on the show.

“Sherif fully accepted and agreed that he broke the rules and that he should leave. We have a duty of care towards all of the Islanders and as such we would not make public the details of the breach of code.”

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