Perth’s new Lord Mayor and media personality Basil Zempilas has apologized to transgender people for comments he made on his morning radio show, saying he “forgot” his new role as elected representative.
- The breakfast radio host, Basil Zempilas, has been elected Lord Mayor of Perth
- He suggested in the air that the genders of people were defined by genitals
- He apologized for the comments and said they were “not helpful”.
Yesterday, Mr Zempilas, who was elected to office earlier this month, told listeners to the breakfast show he co-hosts on 6PR that it is “wrong” for someone to identify as a gender different from their physical anatomy.
“If you have a penis mate, you are a guy,” he said.
“If you have a vagina, you are a woman. Game over.”
Mr Zempilas also urged women with a penis to call the radio station to win a $ 100 voucher.
He chaired a media conference this morning to apologize for his comments.
“That was my fault. It’s my job to be better and it won’t happen again.
“I know what a transgender person is and I regret the comments I made because I know they are not helpful.”
There has been strong backlash from Perth’s trans and LBGTIQ communities, with popular drag queen Scarlet Adams showing a video of herself dancing to Lily Allen’s ‘F *** You’ – which berates and insults people with intolerant views Image of tears up Mr Zempilas.
A rally against Mr. Zempilas is planned for this Saturday in the city of Perth, at which the organizers urge people to “withstand the transphobia”.
Holly Elkes, a trans woman who has worked at Connections nightclub in the CBD for six years, said she was aware that Mr Zempilas had previously visited the venue and met trans people.
“He’s never said these things to our faces, why now?” She said.
“We have heard these comments every day for decades and have been exhausted by the public, let alone someone in a position of power who makes decisions on our behalf.
“If you want to be in a position of power, you have to educate yourself. It’s like queer people 101. “
Holly’s mother Deb called ABC Radio Perth to say she was “embarrassed” by the comments.
“It was disgusting behavior on the part of the mayor,” she said.
“To top it off, if you offer a cash voucher to comment on it, I think it’s abhorrent.
„“[Holly] works at a facility in the CBD that brings money to Perth. There are a lot of trans people working there and she believes that this stuff that Basil is spitting out is another reason that people who hear it are transphobic too.
“There is a green light for those who are already thinking about being bigots.”
Telethon Institute “disappointed” with comments from host
Mr. Zempilas is the ongoing host of the WA Telethon fundraiser, sponsored by Seven West Media.
The Telethon Kids Institute is currently researching discrimination and marginalization related to gender identity.
The institute posted a statement on its website expressing disappointment with Mr Zempilas’ comments.
“We at Telethon Kids were disappointed to read our new Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas’ comments on the transgender community,” the institute said in a statement.
“Telethon Kids is an independent medical research institute and we are absolutely committed to our research and advocacy to support transgender children and adolescents.
“Western Australia has an amazing transgender community that deserves our full support.
“We acknowledge Basil’s apology and will invite him to visit the institute to learn more about our research and the problems facing the transgender community.”
6PR Advertiser distances itself from comments
Retravision, the deal Mr Zempilas offered to provide a voucher to any woman with a penis who called, expressed his deep regret that they were linked with such a comment.
“As a strong supporter of the LGBTIQ + community, Retravision and our staff would like to address yesterday’s comments emphatically,” the business said in a statement.
“The comments on the transgender and non-binary community are not endorsed by Retravision in any way.
“We deeply regret that Mr. Zempilas has linked retravision to his comments and we in no way endorse the views he shared.”
Zempilas stays with Seven West as a columnist and moderator
Mr Zempilas was confronted with questions from some of his colleagues at the media conference. Seasoned Channel 7 reporter Geof Parry said to him, “Less than a week on the job and you are a little embarrassed about the city of Perth, Baz?”
The mayor repeatedly referred to the incident as a “bad broadcast” moment.
He said he would invite people from the transgender and non-binary communities to meet and educate him and said his comments did not reflect his views or values.
When Mr Zempilas took over the role of Lord Mayor, he said he would step down from his top-notch 6PR radio broadcast duties later this year.
He said he will remain a sports presenter for Seven West Media and continue to write a weekly column for the Western Australian newspaper, which is also owned by Seven West.
This column has also been the source of backlash from human rights groups after Mr Zempilas wrote about how he would “forcibly” remove the homeless from Perth’s streets, calling them a “plague” to the city.
He later apologized for these comments too.
Questions about the ongoing role of the radio host
Mr Zempilas was asked if the bug in the air had revealed a problem with his work as a radio station, while at the same time holding the role of Lord Mayor.
“It’s my job to get it right. It’s my job to find the right balance, ”he said.
“I think I get this right on most occasions. But I accept that I wasn’t at the top of my game for a brief moment yesterday.
“It was a bad show and it’s a mistake I shouldn’t have made and I won’t make it again.
“I just have to be better at combining these roles. It shows. I can’t make mistakes like I made yesterday. “
He said he wouldn’t rule out working as a radio station next year while he was still serving as mayor, but said he hadn’t received any offers from other radio stations.
“I like to do the radio. I think in general I’m doing pretty well, ”he said.
“And I think it will expand my role as Lord Mayor of the City of Perth, so I’m not going to rule it out.”
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