Broadcaster and Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas has apologised for transphobic comments he made during his 6PR breakfast show.
Zempilas described the comments as “bad broadcasting” – while equality groups called them “repugnant and bigoted”.
Broadcaster Basil Zempilas apologises
Zempilas told listeners that is “wrong” for someone to identify as a different gender to their physical anatomy:
“If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke.
“If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over.”
Zempilas then laughed off a suggestion by co-host Steve Mills that he will likely come into contact with transgender people in his role as Lord Mayor.
To make matters even worse, Zempilas then called for any women with a penis to ring the radio station for the chance to win a $100 RetraVision store voucher.
The pair had been discussing an LGBTIQ boxing tournament in Sydney, which led to a debate about parents who did not identify their children as male or female.
Repugnant and bigoted
The comments attracted immediate criticism and condemnation from equality advocates.
TransFolk WA chair Hunter Gurevich described them as “harmful” to transgender people.
“These comments are repugnant, bigoted, narrow minded, parochial and fundamentally deny contemporary science.
“Further, it puts LGBTQ people at increased risk of harm, when we are already a vulnerable group in society.”
Pride WA president Curtis Ward described the comments as “misinformed, hurtful and damaging”.
Ward noted Zempilas’s ignorance because he clearly does not understand the difference between genitals and gender identity.
“It is possible to appear one way and feel another and when someone says they’re transgender, they are simply saying they feel differently to how they appear.
“[That is] sex being your physical appearance and your biology whereas gender is how you identify psychologically, whether you’re feminine or masculine.”
Ward also said comments such as Zempilas’s fuelled stigma around the transgender community,
He said mental health issues among transgender people is “rampant”.
“I think people need to be educating themselves about what they’re speaking about and if they do have that stage, and they are commanding such a large audience, they should be making educated statements.”
Within hours, a gay volleyball club launched a petition calling for Zempilas to stand down as Lord Mayor.
A second petition calling for this month’s Pride WA Festival to move to the neighbouring City of Vincent has attracted more than 2000 signatures.
Radio station sponsor Retravision and 6PR quickly distanced themselves from the scandal.
Zempilas apologised the following morning on his breakfast show, then later called a press conference offering the excuse that he “forgot he was Lord Mayor”.
Basil has form
“Sadly, Basil has form when it comes to attacking and demonising the marginalised.
“First it was the homeless, now transgender people.
“He has a track record of making hurtful, ill-informed comments, apologising for them and leaving irreparable damage in his wake.”
Zempilas previously pledged to remove homeless people from the Perth’s pedestrian malls, partly because of “the smell”.
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