A change.org petition calling for the removal of newly elected Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, a media commentator and columnist, has drawn more than 11,500 signatures.
More than eight times as many people who voted for Zempilas to become the Lord Mayor of Perth have now called for him to be removed, after he made transphobic comments on 6PR, where he is a radio presenter.
“If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke. If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over,” the newly elected Perth Lord Mayor told his audience on 6PR Breakfast when discussing the first World Gay Boxing Championships, which will be held in Sydney in 2023.
Zempilas, who also appears regularly on Channel 7 as a media personality, and has a column for The West Australian, later issued a video apology through the City of Perth.
“The comments I made were wrong and they don’t reflect how I feel … I made a mistake and it’s my mistake to accept. I have to be better and I will be better,” he said.
“It is a mistake that I will not make again.”
However, a protest took place following Zempilas’ comments, with the crowd, according to reporter Gavin Height, chanting: “Basil f***ing Zempilas doesn’t represent us!”
Hi everyone, reporter @gavinheight here. I'm in Perth at the protest against the transphobic statements made this week by the mayor of the City of Perth, Basil Zempilas. I'll add to this thread with interviews, photos, and ofc the spiciest posters! @JOY949news pic.twitter.com/ioZ1eSyCIN
— The Informer (@TheInformerJOY) October 31, 2020
Moreover, after Zempilas offered transgender listeners a $100 Retravision voucher if they called in to respond to his original comments, Retravision withdrew its affiliation with 6PR.
The company said it was a strong supporter of the LGBTQI+ community and did not endorse Zempilas’ comments.
“We deeply regret that Mr Zempilas associated Retravision with his comments as we in no way support the views he shared,” the company said in a statement.
“Furthermore, we would like to stress that Retravision had not provided gift vouchers to 6PR in relation to this specific topic. As it stands now, Retravision has withdrawn its affiliation with the 6PR breakfast show.”
Protesters also chanted: “Anti-homeless anti-queer, Basil you’re not welcome here!”, relating to comments by Zempilas about Perth’s homeless population.
According to multiple outlets, the now Lord Mayor of Perth wrote in a column that he would “forcibly remove” them from the CBD.
“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,” he wrote.
“The look, the smell, the language, the fights—it’s disgusting. A blight on our city.”
Zempilas also reportedly apologised for these comments.
Recently, unconfirmed reports have alleged Zempilas’ family home had been graffitied following his inflammatory comments against transgender and non-binary people, but the WA Police Force has yet to confirm them.
Featured image source: YouTube/Basil Zempilas for Perth Lord Mayor