Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas offers new apology over gender 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 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. The station also included the apology in news reports each hour.

There had been widespread condemnation of the comments with TransFolk of WA, Pride WA, PFLAG and sporting club the Perth Rams releasing statements criticising the Lord Mayor.

The Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) said the comments were “extremely hurtful and damaging”, while Mitch Wylie, President of LGBTI rugby team Perth Rams said the statements made by Zempilas were “ignorant”. Actress Danielle Alexis, who has previously spoken about being transgender, labeled Zempilas’ comments as “ludicrous” and “discriminatory”.

Drag star Scarlet Adams also shared her thoughts on the controversy. Last night the performer took to the stage with members of the local trans and gender diverse communities at The Court Hotel’s weekly Drag Factory event lip-syncing to Lily Allen’s 2009 tune Fuck You.

OIP Staff


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