Newly elected Perth (Western Australia) Lord Mayor, Basil Zempilas, has apologised to the transgender community for comments he made on his radio program, saying he “forgot” he was an elected representative of the council and the mayor, the ABC reports.
On Wednesday, Zempilas, who was elected Lord Mayor earlier this month, told his breakfast show listeners it was “wrong” for someone to identify as a gender different to their physical anatomy.
“If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke,” he said.
“If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over.”
He even went so far as to offer a trans woman a $100 gift voucher if they called into the program.
As the backlash grew, Zempilas fronted the media on Thursday morning to apologise for his comments.
“For a brief moment … I forgot that I was the Lord Mayor of the City Of Perth,” Mr Zempilas said. “That was my mistake. It’s my job to be better than that and it won’t happen again.
“I do know what a transgender person is and I regret the comments that I made, because I know they’re not helpful,” Zempilas said.
The Perth LGBTIQ community were swift in condemning Zempilas, with drag queen Scarlet Adams lampooning the mayor to the tune of Lilly Allen’s gay anthem, Fuck You.
Holly Elkes, a trans woman who worked at a nightclub alleged Zempilas had attended the club and met trans people.
“He hasn’t said these things to our faces before, so why now?” she said.
“We have heard these comments every day for decades and we get worn down by it when it comes from the general public, let alone from someone in a position of power who makes decisions on our behalf.
“If you are going to be in a position of power, you need to educate yourself. This is like queer people 101.”