Is poof still a term of derision? Is it more offensive to call a poof a poof if you yourself are not a poof?
These are some of the questions being considered by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal this week.
Gay man Gary Burns has launched legal proceedings against 2UE’s John Laws and Steve Price for comments they made about gay men on television.
On Monday 2 June 2003, Laws and Price were discussing the inclusion of gay couple Gav and Waz on the hit television series The Block.
Burns said he vomited after Laws talked about having to discuss homosexuality with his children. Laws’s comment, How would you explain it when children asked, -˜What do they do, Daddy’? linked paedophilia and homosexuality, he said.
And the use of the word poof by one of the announcers also raised Burns’s shackles.
To counter this, 2UE’s legal representatives tendered 43 pages of Sydney Star Observer articles which contained the word poof used in a non-offensive way.
In cross-examination, Burns said the word poof, when used by those outside the gay family, was still an abusive term.
Other comments -“ like Price’s all interior designers are gay -“ presented a macho simplistic attitude,
Burns said: It casts aspersions about what gay men may or may not do.
The case was not about Laws and Price’s right to free speech, Burns said. With free speech comes responsibility.
Burns said he believed the show’s message was that I as an openly gay man was a disgusting human being.
The tribunal heard Burns wrote a letter to Laws after he heard the broadcast, calling him fascist, very unattractive, a right-wing reactional bigot, a creature of hate and Adolf.
Burns, who was represented by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said he wanted $40,000 damages and a written apology printed in the Sydney Star Observer, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.
The hearing was adjourned until Friday 7 May.