Julia Gillard denies ‘absurd’ claim her male partner is gay

Australian prime minister rejects suggestion by shock jock radio host


In the latest in a series of sexist episodes she’s faced, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has been asked on a radio programme whether her live-in partner, Tim Mathieson, is gay.

Controversial Perth talk radio host Howard Sattler posed the question to the prime minister this afternoon on the premise of clearing up rumours and things “you hear”.

Sattler said to the prime minister he would offer her a chance to clear up “myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendo’’ during the interview on Perth’s 6PR.

“Tim’s gay?” Sattler inquired of the prime minister.

“Well, that’s absurd,” Ms Gillard replied.

“But you hear it,” Sattler persisted. “He must be gay, he’s a hairdresser. It’s not me saying it.”

“Well, Howard, I don’t know whether every silly thing that gets said is going to be repeated to me now, but to all the hairdressers out there, including the men who are listening, I don’t think that in life one can look at a whole profession full of different human beings and say gee, we know something about everyone of those human beings,” the prime minister said, before adding “it’s absurd.”

Rather than dropping the issue, Sattler continued with the inquisition, evidently seeking to obtain a direct denial. “You can confirm that’s he’s not (gay)?”

“Oh, Howard, don’t be ridiculous. Of course not,” Ms Gillard said. “Let me bring you back to earth.”

Sattler was suspended from Fairfax radio today following widespread public condemnation of the interview.

The extraordinary and inappropriate ambush of the prime minister on radio follows days of political controversy over the so-called gender wars.

A furore erupted earlier this week over an lewd menu prepared in association with an LNP fundraiser in Brisbane containing explicit references to the prime minister’s body including her breasts and “big red box.”

Brisbane restaurant owner Joe Richards said he prepared the menu not as a public rebuke but as a private “in-joke” with his son. The LNP’s candidate for the seat of Fisher Mal Brough apologised for the offending document, and so did his party organisation.

Mr Richards says the menu was not circulated among guests at the fundraiser for Mr Brough in late March - although Labor ministers today queried whether that account of events should be believed.

Mr Brough has said the content of the menu was entirely inappropriate.

The LNP candidate said he apologised initially, not because he has seen the menu himself, but because he believed others might have seen it. He later clarified with Richards that it had not gone beyond the kitchen.

Guardian News & Media

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