Gaffe-prone Channel Seven star-turned Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas makes a grovelling apology to transgender people for ‘if you’ve got a penis, you’re a bloke’ jibe – after saying homeless people were ‘smelly’
- Basil Zempilas condemned for ‘insensitive’ opinions about transgender people
- New Perth Mayor said ‘if you’ve got a penis, you’re a bloke’ on breakfast radio
- Comments sparked outrage among the LGBTQIA community and supporters
- Mr Zempilas previously criticised for threatening to ‘forcibly remove’ homeless
TV star-turned Perth Lord Mayor, Basil Zempilas, has been forced to apologise for his ‘insensitive’ jibe insulting transgender people.
The breakfast host, 49, who was elected just two weeks ago, told listeners of his radio show on Wednesday that it was ‘wrong’ for a person to identify as a gender that was not the same as their physical anatomy.
‘If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke. If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over,’ he said.
Mr Zempilas also offered a $100 voucher to any ‘woman with a penis who called in and when asked how he would handle meeting transgender voters joked ‘handle the penis?’
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Basil Zempilas (pictured with his wife), who was elected into office in mid-October, told listeners of his radio show on Wednesday that it was ‘wrong’ for a person to identify as a gender which is in opposition to their physical anatomy
Mr Zempilas (pictured, on the campaign trail) apologised on Thursday for his insensitive comments against the transgender community
By Thursday, he admitted he’d made a mistake and apologised to anybody who took offence to his comments.
‘For a brief moment, at 25 minutes past 5am yesterday, I forgot that I was the Lord Mayor of the City of Perth. That was my mistake. It’s my job to be better than that and it won’t happen again,’ he said.
He said the comments do not ‘accurately reflect his values’ and that it was a ‘stupid, bad broadcasting moment’ that would not happen again.
‘Transgender people should be allowed to live their lives the way that they wish to,’ he said.
‘It’s a moment that I would prefer to take back, obviously. I’m not proud of those comments and I have apologised for those comments.
‘They were comments unbefitting of me and my values and certainly unbefitting of the values of the organisations that I work for, my colleagues and certainly not in-keeping with the values of the City of Perth.’
The City of Perth has long been an ally to the LGBTQIA community, many of whom were outraged with the statement.
Mr Zempilas, a former Weekend Sunrise host, was encouraged to undergo transgender awareness training to assist in his role serving the broader community.
Hunter Gurevich, who chairs TransFolk WA, described the comments as unacceptable and ‘repugnant’.
The City of Perth has long been an ally to the LGBTQI community, many of whom were outraged with the statement
Curtis Ward, from Pride WA, suggested Mr Zempilas hadn’t quite grasped the difference between sex and gender. Pictured: Participants in the Mardi Gras parade
‘These comments are repugnant, bigoted, narrow minded, parochial and fundamentally deny contemporary science,’ he said.
‘Further, it puts LGBTQIA+ 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 LGBTQIA+ community of Perth.
‘For Mr Zempilas to now betray not only the community, but our relationship with the city, is beyond inexcusable.’
Mr Gurevich already said it would be difficult for members of the community to accept the apology.
‘No apology will be accepted until Mr Zempilas confronts the damage his comments can and have done,’ he said.
Curtis Ward, from Pride WA, suggested Mr Zempilas hadn’t quite grasped the difference between sex and gender.
‘It is possible to appear one way and feel another and when someone says they’re transgender, they are simply saying they feel differently to how they appear,’ he said.
Mr Zempilas (pictured with his wife), a former Weekend Sunrise host, has been encouraged to undergo transgender awareness training to assist in his role serving the broader community
Zempilas’ comments only fueled stigma surrounding the LGBTQIA community and perpetuated misinformed, hurtful and damaging opinions, according to one expert in the community
‘[That is] sex being your physical appearance and your biology whereas gender is how you identify psychologically, whether you’re feminine or masculine.’
Mr Ward said Zempilas’ comments only fueled stigma surrounding the LGBTQIA community and perpetuated misinformed, hurtful and damaging opinions.
‘I think people need to be educating themselves about what they’re speaking about and if they do have that stage, and they are commanding such a large audience, they should be making educated statements,’ he said.
During the segment, Mr Zempilas encouraged ‘any women with a penis’ to ring the radio station to win a $100 voucher.
He will quit his presenting role on the radio show at the end of the year after stepping into the role of Lord Mayor.
The latest controversy came after he wrote in a column piece in August that he would ‘forcibly’ remove homeless people from the city centre if he was elected.
‘I make no apologies for this, the homeless need to be moved out of the Hay and Murray Street malls and the surrounding areas,’ he wrote.
Zempilas’ campaign trail hit a snag after he wrote in a column piece in August that he would ‘forcibly’ remove homeless people from the city centre ‘if that’s what it takes’
Channel Seven star Basil Zempilas (pictured, with Sam Armytage) was elected the Lord Mayor of the City of Perth two weeks ago
‘Forcibly, if that’s what it takes. I’m sick of being told by people who don’t live and work in the city like I do that it’s not that bad — actually, it’s worse.
‘The look, the smell, the language, the fights — it’s disgusting. A blight on our city.’
Mr Zempilas was forced to apologise after copping widespread backlash over the comments, with critics accusing him of being ‘disconnected from the city’.
‘Those comments were made in frustration over nine months ago after an incident with my wife and my six year old daughter and a man exposing himself at 11am on a Sunday,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘But the comments weren’t appropriate and I have apologised.
‘I’ve spent a good deal of the last six months educating myself by speaking with people who are homeless, trying to understand their situation better and by speaking with service providers. ‘
Mr Zempilas is a famous face in West Australia, and in March 2018, he was co-host of Weekend Sunrise, replacing Andrew O’Keefe.
In September 2019, he stepped down as regular host of Weekend Sunrise, however continued to appear as a fill-in presenter.
The TV star is has been married to longtime partner Amy Graham since 2009, with the pair tying the knot in Greece. They share two daughters and a son.