Zempilas: “I understand that my actions will speak louder than words.”

Perth’s Lord Mayor has opened his first full council meeting by repeating his apology over comments he made about gender.

Since OUTinPerth broke the news that the newly elected Lord Mayor had made a series of statements about gender on his 6PR radio show Zempilas has faced a barrage of condemnation and criticism.

The story has spread across the country and around the globe, while the Lord Mayor has faced protests, public criticism and a deluge of complaints.

Chairing the first full meeting of the newly elected council last night Zempilas asked that he be judged on his actions moving forward, promising that he and his colleagues will take part in awareness training.

““I accept responsibility for the pain my comments have caused” Zempilas told a packed public gallery, sharing that he had privately met members of the transgender community earlier in the week and apologised directly.

““I understand that my actions will speak louder than words,” Zempilas said according to The West Australian.

The Lord Mayor has also apologised to staff at the City of Perth, many who had looked on in disbelief as the city’s long standing good relationship with the LGBTI+ communities was washed away in an instant.

Extending the standard question time, the council heard from local residents who shared their disappointment with Lord Mayor’s conduct and initial response to the criticism. Among them were parents of transgender teens who shared their personal stories.

On Saturday hundreds of people protested outside of Council House, calling for Zempilas to resign from his position. A petition calling for him to step down has close to 12,000 signatories.

Another petition launched by former Pride WA President Paul Hunt had called for the upcoming Pride Festival to be relocated to the City of Vincent. Over 3,000 people voiced their support for the idea, but last night Zempilas revealed that he had met with the festival’s organisers and they had agreed to keep the event at the City of Perth.

Zempilas also announced that he had made a personal donation to support group Transfolk of WA and would be donating profits from sales of ‘Basil’ campaign merchandise to the organisation.

During the meeting the exterior lights of Council House displayed the colours of the Pride flag.

Anti-transgender campaigner Kirralie Smith says Zempilas gave into bullying from radical activists.

Warning: This video may be upsetting to people who are transgender or non-binary.

While Basil Zempilas has faced a barrage of criticism over his comments about gender, anti-transgender organisation Binary is upset that he apologised.

In an video post spokesperson Kirralie Smith said the Lord Mayor has caved in to radical activists, saying Zempilas was a victim of being bullied.

“He is apologising for stating biological facts. Why give in to the bullying? Why prop up their dangerous agenda by appeasing a radical ideological viewpoint that is not supported by science” Smith told her followers.

Smith said the Lord Mayor’s retraction of his comments showed that free speech was under threat in Australia.

“No one in this country should be threatened for speaking the truth. Compelled speech is a mark of totalitarianism. Not a free democracy.” Smith said.

Since news of Zempilas’s comments broke his family home has been vandalised and his wife Amy was forced to delete her Instagram account. Both TV station Channel 7 and radio station 6PR,  the media organisations Zempilas works for, have been flooded with complaints.

Graeme Watson

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