Radio announcer John Laws has publicly apologised for his anti-gay comments, on the same day New Mardi Gras’ Petersham headquarters were defaced with graffiti saying pillow biters and pompous pansy prig.
Laws used both phrases in his comments about visiting Queer Eye For The Straight Guy star Carson Kressley two weeks ago. His open letter of apology, which appears in today’s Sydney Star Observer, was written before the graffiti appeared on Tuesday night.
It has also emerged Laws has received threats of violence against him and his family since he made the Kressley comments, with security being stepped up at his 2UE offices.
The graffiti was done using pink spray paint and was clearly a reaction to the comments Laws made, NMG co-chair Steph Sands said.
Staff are not scared but they’re obviously concerned. They feel annoyed that it’s happening at their workplace, Sands said, adding they will probably ask volunteers to paint over the graffiti.
Police say they will do more night-time drive-bys of the building following the incident.
The new co-convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby David Scamell said he found it quite disturbing someone had defaced the main building of a gay organisation with Laws’s comments.
As there is no signage to identify the New Mardi Gras building, it has not been ruled out the graffiti could have been done by members of the gay community.
If it was made by someone in the community to try to prove a point, obviously they’re not aware of the retraction Mr Laws has now made, Scamell said.
Laws’s apology came after meeting with ACON CEO Stevie Clayton, political adviser Bill Bowtell and former Mardi Gras chairman Damien Furlong on Monday. It is believed Laws also received hundreds of emails of complaint from the community.
I would like to say directly to you what I told your representatives -“ that I abhor and condemn all acts of violence, including homophobic violence, and deeply regret that my remarks might have been interpreted in this way, Laws said in his letter.
I do apologise to you for any distress my words might have caused.
Laws called for support from the gay community, saying tolerance had to be a two-way street. Hopefully the same tolerance can be returned, he said.
Clayton condemned anyone making threats of violence toward Laws. Whilst clearly lots of us took offence to his words, we can’t condemn language we think promotes violence by promoting violence ourselves, she said. I would really discourage people from doing that.
Clayton said she accepted Laws only intended to satirise Cressley and didn’t intend for it to be taken as a criticism of all gay men. That said, I think until that meeting he didn’t really understand the way people will often interpret those sorts of words when they are used against people in our community, she said.
I think he now has a much clearer understanding of that. On that basis I think he’s taken a really big step in being prepared to now put in writing his apology to the community.
As far as we’re concerned this is the end of the matter.
Laws has also agreed to give air-time to the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project in the lead-up to Mardi Gras and there are negotiations about what sort of other assistance he can give the AVP in future.