The star was speaking ahead of a rainbow-coloured bagel technical challenge on Tuesday's episode when he made the remarks.
Asked by fellow judge Prue Leith why the challenge was focusing on rainbow bagels, he said: "I think bagels are a great challenge when you're making bread, you've got to boil them which is unusual and then bake them as well."
He added: "I think the rainbow colours for me, although it originated over the States, I think it represents the NHS."
(We're pretty sure rainbow colours originated in nature, if anything...)
"Well, it does now," responded Leith.
"It does now," agreed Hollywood.
Of course, the rainbow has long represented the LGBT community. The late artist Gilbert Baker created the original rainbow flag symbol, which made its first appearance at the 1978 San Francisco Pride festival. Baker died in 2017 at the age of 65.
"Priti Patel, honestly deport me now, I've had enough of this country"
According to MailOnline, 18 viewers have so far complained about Hollywood's comments to media regulator Ofcom.
Viewers also took to social media to express their surprise/outrage:
— shane reaction ☘️ (@shane_reaction_) October 6, 2020
*referribg to rainbow bagels* “I think it represents the NHS” ~ Paul Hollywood... okay are we just gonna ignore it was a symbol of Pride first orrrr...?— Sam Hewitson (@samwhewitson) October 6, 2020
Rainbow bagels represent the NHS?????? @ Priti Patel honestly deport me now, I've had enough of this country #GBBO— Hannah (@hannahchrstina) October 6, 2020
GBBO has of course featured many LGBTQ contestants over the years. (Last year's winner David Atherton just got engaged to his boyfriend.)
Meanwhile, current host Matt Lucas is gay, as is ex-judge Sandi Toksvig.
Great British Bake Off returns to Channel 4 on Tuesday 13 October 2020.