Sat | Jan 28, 2023

Homophobic comments being probed

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2010 | 12:00 AM

SYDNEY (AP): Homophobic comments made by two commentators on an Australian TV network's Winter Olympics coverage will be investigated by the New South Wales state's Anti-Discrimination Board.

Hosts Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy's mocked male ice-skaters during the Nine Network's coverage of the Games, last week.

Gary Burns, a Sydney gay rights activist who has taken legal action against other radio and television commentators over gay slurs, made the complaint to the anti-discrimination board.

Burns said people in powerful positions should be aware that they have responsibilities as presenters.

"They should publicly apologise for their unlawful rant to the homosexual community of Australia," he said in a statement.

McGuire and Molloy "were not down at the pub drinking flat beer with their mates, they were on national television being viewed by millions of Australians," he added.

Burns has previously brought legal action against the Nine Network over a controversial skit on a rugby league show. He has also brought legal action against a high-profile Sydney radio host and a former state premier, both for making anti-homosexual slurs.

public apology demanded

The legal action by Burns follows calls by the Quebec Gay and Lesbian Council (CQGL) demanding a public apology from Canada's French language RDS after one commentator said American skater Johnny Weir hurts figure skating's image and another said Weir should be made to take a gender test.

The remarks were "outrageous" and "homophobic," CQGL said in a statement on its Web site.

Weir responded Wednesday by telling a news conference in Vancouver that the broadcasters needed to consider the impact their words will have on others, particularly impressionable youngsters.

"I want them to think before they speak. I want them to think about not only the person they're talking about, but also other people like that person," he said. "What people as a majority need to do is think, and think about who they're affecting. ... I don't want, 50 years from now, more boys and girls to go through this same thing."

Although Weir said he found the comments "offensive", he supports free speech and doesn't think the Canadian broadcasters should be punished.

Weir is one of figure skating's most colourful and oversized personalities and he enjoys challenging convention. He was targeted by animal-rights activists after adding white fox fur to his free skate costume for last month's US championships; and he once posed for a photo shoot in a skirt and stilettos.

But he has repeatedly avoided questions about his sexual orientation, and did so again Wednesday. People shouldn't be defined by labels, Weir said.