Newly elected independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich has hit back at a report in News Limited newspaper The Daily Telegraph about his “gay party boy” past, labelling it nothing more than homophobic sledging.
This morning, the paper ran a story under the headline ‘Gay MP’s party past leaked as a sledge’ and online described him as a “gay party boy” who used to organise “risqué” parties at Bondi Beach, the details of which had now “leaked out” to the paper.
Greenwich said he was horrified that the paper would use what he described as an afternoon fundraiser for cancer and surf life saving charities in an to attempt to sledge him
“There’s nothing secret about these parties, they were open and on the public record it was reported at the time; obviously they are trying to beat up this in an attempt to try and sledge me, but I think The Daily Telegraph attempts to sledge me have backfired,” he told the Star Observer.
“I’m really proud of the work we did in raising funds for charities like Movember and Lifesavers with Pride,” he said.
Greenwich replaces former Sydney independent MP and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore who held the seat for 24-years until she was forced out by the NSW Liberal government under new laws preventing politicians from serving on both a council and in state parliament.
Greenwich said the paper’s treatment of the story stigmatised LGBTI people and sent the wrong message, especially to younger members of the community.
“This was four years ago and was some beers in the afternoon raising money for a charity, the unfortunate thing for me is they are obviously trying to associate a gay event with being somehow secret or salacious and the stigma that such a story can create, particularly for young gay people,” he said.
Social media websites were rife with criticism of the story this morning and the Twitter hashtags #gaypartyboy and #gayducks – in reference to Greenwich’s comments that the story was “water off a gay duck’s back” - had started trending.
Supporters included Moore, who tweeted: “Yes, he’s gay & hosted fundraisers – but @alexgreenwich also admitted to me that he used to play bridge #gayducks”
Greenwich said the story detracted from a historic win for the gay community after he became the first gay married man to be elected to Parliament after wining a landslide in the Sydney by-election on Saturday.
“To somehow take a victory for our community, which was the first member of any Parliament in Australia being in a same-sex marriage, and try to turn that into a negative story, I think that is extremely disappointing for The Daily Telegraph to do,” he said.
Greenwich who had been tipped to win on Green’s preferences surprised many when he recorded a massive primary vote of more than 48 percent, this is expected to be approximately 65 percent (two party preferred) after Greens preferences flow to him.
The Daily Telegraph‘s Andrew Clennell, who wrote the story, was approached by the Star Observer but he declined to comment.
The paper and one of its columnists, Miranda Devine, were criticised earlier this month by state politicians, rights advocates and anti-depression initiative beyondblue for running a front page story and opinion piece attacking an anti-homophobia initiative in NSW schools.