Labor Senator Penny Wong has suggested a TV sports commentator who called an AFL player a “poofter” last weekend should not continue to work on air.
AFL commentator Brian Taylor called Geelong’s Harry Taylor “a big poofter” on Channel Seven when the player gave a mock royal wave to the crowd at his 150th match.
The commentator was stood down from radio commitments the next day and Channel Seven has said he will also have counselling after uttering the homophobic slur.
Senator Wong, who is gay, says she was “angered and upset” by the comments.
She praised Channel Seven and the AFL for their handling of the issue but indicated Taylor should consider his future in broadcasting.
“I note that he has apologised for his latest remark,” she told the Senate today.
“Well, if he can’t exercise self-control and just blurts these things out in the heat of the moment, perhaps he isn’t qualified to be sitting in front of a live microphone.
“Are people in prominent positions really that ignorant, really that cruel, really that careless – also prejudiced? Because if they are they simply don’t deserve to occupy positions where they can hurt people by what they say.”
Senator Wong contrasted Taylor’s remarks with the “courageous” revelation from Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe on Sunday that he was gay.
She suggested anyone who thought Taylor’s “jibe” was just a joke should consider the impact on young people who may be afraid to come out.
“It isn’t a joke to be on the receiving end of a word like poofter,” she said.
“It’s no joke to be caught in the crossfire of prejudice and it’s no joke to live with the fear of being rejected or vilified or persecuted because of who you are.
“We still hear homophobic insults and slurs bandied around as if they’re acceptable, harmless just a bit of a laugh.
“Well it isn’t a laugh to a young person growing up working out who they are surrounded by an atmosphere of hostility.”