Calls for PrideFEST to be relocated from the City of Perth

Calls for PrideFEST to be moved away from the City of Perth

There have been calls for Perth’s annual Pride Festival to be relocated from the City of Perth following comments from newly instated Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas that have been labeled as “repugnant” and “bigoted”.

On his 6PR breakfast radio show on Wednesday morning Zempilas indicated gender was based on a person’s genitals and launched a radio competition appealing to a “woman who has a penis” to call in to the station for a chance to win a $100 voucher.

Paul Hunt, a former President of the organisation, has launched a petition calling for the upcoming Pride events in November to be relocated to neighbouring City of Vincent. Launching the petition Hunt said the city’s Lord Mayor had shown his “true colours” with his comments.

“Let’s move the City of Perth PrideFEST from its current home to the City of Vincent, a more progressive and stable part of Perth.” Hunt said in the petition’s description.

Pride WA say Lord Mayor’s comments were demeaning

Pride WA has responded to the statements from Zempilas saying they could only be described as “discriminatory, dismissive and demeaning towards the Trans and Intersex communities.”

“It is always disappointing when individuals express views and form firm opinions without first fully educating themselves on the issues. Often people do not understand that gender and sex are two different things. Sex is your physical appearance; it is biological and it is determined by your chromosomes.

“Gender is how you identify psychologically, whether you are feminine or masculine, it is how you feel. It is possible to appear one way and feel another and when someone says they are Transgender they are simply saying they feel differently to how they appear. It truly is not that confusing when you take the time to understand it.” Pride WA said.

Describing the comments from the Lord Mayor as “flippant” and “damaging”, Pride WA said the Lord Mayor had shown he was misinformed when it came to the issue of gender identity.

“Mental health issues are rampant in our Trans community because of these types of misinformed comments. In this day and age, we should be aware that life is not black and white. We should be embracing diversity and supporting each other. And Perth, seeking its place in the world as a modern, progressive cosmopolitan city, should be leading the way in doing so.”

The organisation said the upcoming PrideFEST in November would be a great opportunity for people to learn more about the LGBTIQ+ communites, highlighting that TransFolk WA are running event called Trans 101, describing it as a chance to “Get educated, witness first-hand the wonderfully diverse community we have and be supportive of your neighbours.”

Pride WA said they would be guided by their membership regarding the running of the upcoming festival but highlighted the successful relationship they have developed with the local government body over many years.

“Ultimately, Pride WA is a members’ run organisation and the management committee would need to consult with its members about any significant changes to the usual program. However, we note that the City of Perth, as a whole, has been a principal partner and supporter of Pride WA and the Pride Parade for many years.

“The Council is a large organisation who employ many people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and allies of our community, and in our dealings with them, demonstrate just how much they value diversity in their City. To hold the entire organisation accountable for the words of one individual, albeit their Lord Mayor, would be unjust, particularly given the organisation itself does not choose its mayor.” Pride WA said.

“Consideration must also be given to the long-standing relationship between Northbridge and the Perth Pride Parade. Northbridge has always been the spiritual home of the Perth Pride Parade. It is the one night of the year where Northbridge becomes a safe place. And there is also beauty in the ongoing support provided by local businesses, who offer water and rest stops to dancers and performers in the parade. It would be unfortunate to lose this connection and relationship because of the words of one individual.

Pride WA called on the City of Perth to ensure it’s leadership team had better knowledge of the LGBTIQ+ communites, offering to assist in addressing any knowledge gaps.

“Moving forward, the comments made on 6PR has identified a knowledge gap in the leadership of the City of Perth and Pride WA will be offering its assistance to educate these individuals on diversity and acceptance. We are hopeful that through collaboration and partnership, we can overcome these issues and improve things for the future.”

Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas offers new apology over comments

When OUTinPerth broke the story regarding the comments yesterday, Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas said he and co-host Steve Mills had not intended to be offensive.

“If anyone was offended that was not our intention, and I would apologise.” Zempilas told OUTinPerth.

“I absolutely understand that it’s an individuals right to identify the way that they wish to.  I understand that one hundred per cent.” Zempilas said acknowledging that he was not completely familiar with the current laws in Western Australia, or moves to make it easier for transgender people to change their identity.

This morning as media reports about his comments spread across news outlets and social media Zempilas offered a more detailed apology. Addressing the issue at the top of his breakfast radio show Zempilas said he was sorry for his comments and regretted making them.

“I apologise for any hurt that I may have caused to anyone at all, and I understand that those comments were hurtful.” Zempilas said.

Zempilas said as a broadcaster he had failed in his responsibilities, made a mistake and was sorry for the statements he made.

“It’s part of my job as a broadcaster to be better than that, and to have a responsibility to the community to lead and to educate, and to inform. I didn’t do that yesterday, it wasn’t a great day, and I’ll be better today and ever day after this one as well.”

Co-host Steve Mills said the station had received a large amount of correspondence on the issue, and while some people had supported the statements made by Zempilas, the majority of the feedback was about the hosts having a lack of awareness.

“I’ve caused people significant duress, and that was not my intention, but what’s more disappointing is I understand is indeed how people live their lives and I am aware of that. I was aware of that yesterday, but it was radio banter gone wrong.” the Lord Mayor said.

Zempilas said if he wished he could take back his statements.

“If I had the opportunity to take it back I would. I can’t, but what I can do is explain that those comments don’t align with my values.” Zempilas said, sharing that his wife Amy had also not been impressed with his on-air statements yesterday.

After addressing the issue at the stop of the program Mills and Zempilas spoke about them again at the time they had originally had the discussion.

OIP Staff

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