Perth’s new Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, who was sworn in just last week, has come under fire for transphobic comments made on the breakfast show he co-hosts on Radio Station 6PR on Wednesday morning.
While discussing Boxing Australia’s decision to bring the World Gay Boxing Championships to Sydney in 2023 with his co-host Steve Mills, Zempilas said that it was “wrong” for someone to identify as a different gender to their physical anatomy.
“If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke,” Zempilas said. “If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over.”
Mills replied by saying, “that’s the new era Basil, get into it. If I subscribe to being a girl, I am a girl.”
Zempilas also called for any women with a penis to ring the radio station for the chance to win a $100 Retravision voucher.
Quick to call out Zempilas, TransFolk of WA chair Hunter Gurevich said they would not be accepting an apology from Mr Zempilas until he “confronted the damage his comments can and have done.”
“Obviously these comments are repugnant, bigoted, narrow-minded, parochial and fundamentally deny contemporary science,” Gurevich added. “Further, it puts LGBTQI people at increased risk of harm, when we are already a vulnerable group in society. It is especially disappointing when the City Of Perth has long supported the LGBTQI community of Perth. For Mr Zempilas to now betray not only the community, but our relationship with the City, is beyond inexcusable.”
Speaking to Perth LGBTQI news site OUTinPerth, Zempilas apologised for the comments saying, “if anyone was offended that was not our intention.” However, the damage was already done, with many taking to social media with the hashtag #notmymayor, to express their outrage.
When contacted, a spokesperson for 6PR said, “Basil’s comments did not meet those expectations and it is appropriate he has apologised,” adding that the radio station did not support Mr Zempilas’ comments, and that employees were regularly trained to ensure broadcasters met community standards and expectations.