A CITY of Greater Bendigo councillor’s letter to the editor calling the idea of the AFL’s gay pride round “rubbish” has been slammed by gay ambassadors.
Councillor Helen Leach’s letter to the Herald Sun earlier this week said: “we don’t want issues such as homosexuality, or any sexuality, thrusted in our faces in the name of anti-bullying”.
“We won’t be attending any more games. Gay pride! What rubbish!”
The letter was re-posted by well-known gay activist and Yarra Glen footballer Jason Ball on his Facebook account and described as “ugly”.
Cr Leach said she was not a homophobe but was against the AFL using the game for any political agenda.
“I don’t care for a player’s political affiliation or sexual preference, just that they can play football,” she said. “I am not homophobic. I know lots of gay people.”
Cr Leach refused to comment when asked if she could understand why people were offended by the letter.
“I believe in free speech. If people disagree, that’s fine,” she said. “I’m glad a conversation is being had about this.”
Country Awareness Network (CAN) Bendigo executive officer Adam Wright expressed his disappointment at Cr Leach’s comments.
“I’m just disappointed that this is one of our community leaders speaking out like this,” he said.
“It just shows why CAN has to work hard to re-instil self-worth into our young people.”
Mr Wright said an AFL gay pride round would go a long way to addressing football’s homophobic culture.
“It’s not about thrusting sexuality down people’s throat, it’s about overcoming an ugly culture in the game,” he said.
“To sit there and say having a gay pride match is not family friendly is just wrong.”