A Greens candidate in the ACT Parliament elections has called out his rival and the person he is seeking to replace, over the Liberal MLA’s comment that he was “too camp” to win the seat. Shadow housing minister and Liberal MLA Mark Parton has since apologised to Greens candidate Jonathan Davis for his comments.
Davis is the Greens candidate from Brindabella in Tuggeranong with elections to the ACT assembly of 25 seats scheduled to take place from Sept 28-Oct 11.
Davis said he had initially ignored the comment when it was made, but decided to call out the behaviour after one of the MLA’s supporters started spewing vile homophobic comments on his social media posts. His own volunteers felt aggrieved about the incident, which he said made him feel all the more responsible to call it out.
“I think a comment in isolation wouldn’t have been enough for me to cry foul of being attacked in a very visceral and violent way,” Davis told Star Observer over the phone, while on his way to a campaign stop.
“For me it seemed to be a lot less of a homophobic deed, or a reference to my sexuality. But it really made me think that this is what anybody who’s different faces when they enter public life – women, people of color, people with a disability, queer people. If you do not fit a really rigid white, cisgendered, heteronormative, able bodied archetype, then your difference seems to be something that is okay to point out. I think that that insults the intelligence of the electorate, who want to hear from politicians about substantive policies. They don’t, for the most part, have any interest in these really shallow things,” said Davis.
“Mark was kind enough to say that I was a nice bloke but that I probably wouldn’t win because I’m ‘too camp for Tuggeranong’,” said Davis. “Yes, I’m a proud gay man. And yes, I’m probably a bit camp. Would you like to know what else I am? I’m a small business owner, an activist, a carer, a son, a friend, a person who’s experienced homelessness, a public school graduate and a proud resident of Tuggeranong – and I’m the candidate most likely to beat the Liberals for the fifth and final seat in Brindabella,” he added in the post.
Davis, who has contested the elections earlier for the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2012 and 2016 and was the Australian Greens candidate for Bean in last years federal election, said that Parton’s jibe, caught him by surprise.
“In Canberra, we pride ourselves on being Australia’s most diverse and inclusive city. We elected the first ever openly gay head of government to any state or territory or federal parliament in the country (Chief Minister Andrew Barr). But then I’m actually not surprised when I hear comments like these from the Canberra Liberals who have done a very good job making themselves the most socially conservative branch of the Liberal Party in the country’s most progressive city.
Davis doesn’t want his experience to dissuade other LGBTQI candidates who are looking at running for public office.
“Be openly and unashamedly queer in your political party. And then be openly and unashamedly queer when you are running for office. Each time more of us run as our authentic selves, without shame or fear, the easier we make it for the next openly queer person who wants to run for office.”