A contestant on Malta's version of the X Factor television series is under fire for publicly declaring that he is a former homosexual who gave his life to Jesus.
Matthew Grech, a singer and vocal coach, said during an interview on the show that he used to live a "homosexual lifestyle," but then "found God".
"I used to lead a homosexual lifestyle and then I found God. For a long time, I stopped following my passions to follow Jesus," Grech said, according to the Independent. "There can be love between two men and two women, yes -- but only friendship love. Everything else is a sin."
The clip was aired on national television and uploaded on Youtube and Facebook. Many people were upset that Grech described homosexuality as a "lifestyle" and "sin."
"What an utter despicable person. YOU ARE GAY. Stop lying on national tv and be proud of who you are," one YouTube commenter identified as JON fivesevenseven said.
Another said the world needs to be "free" from "bad people" like Grech.
However, others urged people to judge the contestant on his singing ability, not his religious beliefs.
"Let him LIVE and BELIEVE what he really what's. That's why we have freedom of speech. Gay or not Gay it's not us to judge. This is unfair for him, because the gay community Bend it his comments to do publicity from him. No offence to anyone. But this guys have a talent," Gary Briffa said.
Grech's audition featuring his comments about his Christian faith has since been deleted on all social media platforms.
On Monday, X Factor published a statement saying that no part of Grech's original audition was intended "to cause offense" and that "nor were the views expressed those of the producers of the program".
Malta's government took a more direct approach and publicly condemned Grech for his "homophobic" beliefs, adding this his comments endangered the country's youth.
"Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle," the statement read, in part.
Grech's pastor, Gordon-John Manche called out the government for targeting one of its citizens for his faith.
Manche said the incident shows the government's hypocrisy when it comes to freedom of speech. He said its "ok" to swear and use God's name in vain, "but if somebody says that Jesus Christ changed his life," it is unacceptable.
Grech said in an interview with iNews that he wants Christians to stand up for their faith.
“I believe I gave an example that Christians shouldn’t be afraid to express their faith, even if the crowd of lions rises against you,” Grech, a member of the evangelical River of Love fellowship, told iNews. “Many people from different countries have thanked me for putting my love for God ahead of mankind.”