Opinion

What you said about the anti-gay letter

IT'S the letter that galvanised gay and straight Gladstone residents.

The Observer has been inundated with Facebook comments, letters and phone calls following the publication of an anti-homosexual letter by Gladstone resident Carol Zussino on Monday.

>> Community backlash builds over homophobic letter, and why it was printed

Readers didn't hold back.

Letter writer Luke Harris said Ms Zussino's comments could lead to an increase in youth suicides.

Phillip Donkin wrote: "If the woman thinks she is a Christian she is only fooling herself."

William Doran called the letter "overtly homophobic".

Facebook user Josh Harris said: "I'm not gay, but I have quite a few friends who are and would take offence to this.

"The bible says somewhere to treat everyone equally, not sure there's a lot of equality going on in this little tanty(sic), maybe a piece from someone in the gay community to write something from their point of view?"

"All I no(sic) this is very disgraceful and disrespectful to the gay community of Gladstone and surrounds," he wrote.

Darian Zam commented on Facebook: "Thumbs down to bible bigot Carol Zossino's letter published June 2."

Emily Keech took aim at The Observer: "To the bigot who decided to publish and print the extremely homophobic and offensive post in The Observer, you are what is wrong with the world."

Andrew Brice said: "So sad that gay people are vilified and religious leaders and such get away with molesting children."

Cameron Pegg said stories should be written on, "the good work of groups like Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays or the next Breaking Down the Door Day."

Many readers likened the letter to a racist rant.

"If someone wrote a similar letter complaining of a token 'black character', would it then be considered libellous and thus not be printed, or would it just be her 'firmly held opinion' and not uninformed hate speech?" questioned Liam Strong.

Andrew Fordyce wrote to "officially make grievance and submit my objection (to) the article your paper published on this day on the (grounds that it) incites sexuality based vilification".

MORE RESPONSES TO THE LETTER:

Just adding to suicide rate

I AM disgusted to see a letter from a 'Carol Zussino' in your paper, June 2, 2014 regarding 'gay propaganda'. Whilst I understand that letters like this are 'received' by the paper and that you have a responsibility to print articles without censorship this type of letter is extremely offensive and hurtful.

Not only that, it is exactly this type of crap that adds to suicide rates in gay youth. This is a hate letter and surely the paper has some discretion on this. What if I wrote a letter about black people and was deliberately racist? What if I wrote a letter that was sexist and discriminated against women? It would never be printed.

The editor and the paper need to publicly apologise for publishing this rubbish. If the writer doesn't want to watch certain shows on TV, she doesn't have to.

I live in Melbourne and have heard about this from friends of mine around the country and I am appalled. Wake up to yourselves.

Racism, homophobia, sexism and any form of discrimination are NOT WELCOME in Australia. Printing hurtful and offensive material like this affects people's lives in a big way.

Luke Harris

No justification for bigoted view

I REFER to the letter published on June 2, 2014, in your newspaper, entitled "More gay propaganda through the TV". I am very disappointed, even angered, by your decision to publish a letter conveying such bigoted and misleading views.

For the reasons I have outlined below, I have made a complaint to the Australian Press Council against the Gladstone Observer and the decision to publish this letter.

The letter published is a clear example of hate speech, which is not relevant to any particular current issue, is likely to cause offence, and places a gratuitous emphasis on homosexuality without any public interest to justify its publication.

Moreover, the views presented in the letter and published by the Gladstone Observer are falsehoods, in particular the view that homosexuality is disproportionately "dangerous and unhygienic". I also strongly believe that the views expressed in the article meet the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland's definition of vilification and discrimination.

I am of the opinion that the act of publishing this letter is in breach of Standards 7 and 8 through the lack of public interest justification, and through the gratuitous emphasis placed on homosexuality. I read with interest the your response to readers on the Gladstone Observer Facebook page, and I firmly believe that it is inadequate and fails to take into account the offence you have caused readers by publishing the letter.

As I have previously mentioned, there is no public interest in publishing these views, and a newspaper does not have an unrestricted right to publish all views, regardless of how bigoted or offensive they might be.

Moreover, many letters to the editor with far less questionable content are never published by many publications similar to yours in Australia without claims of "censorship".

Sam Ison

Don't print it in future

I FOUND the fact that this letter was published in the Observer very offensive, and I hope you refrain from publishing such offensive material in the future.

Melanie Brown

Goes against Anti-discrimination Act

I write to you in refrence to an article posted in the Gladstone Observer, June 2, 2014, "More Gay propaganda through the TV" by Carol Zussino. Please find attached the article should this be necessary.

I write to you to officially make grievance and submit my objection for the article your paper published on this day on the ground of incites sexuality based vilification in reference to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 QLD; particularly a public act that incites hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule of a person or group on the grounds of sexuality. Citing legislation Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 ss 4A, 124A. Making reference to statements in regards to homosexuality: "neither normal nor natural, dangerous and unhygienic and sexual perversion".

I draw your attention specifically to GLBTI v Wilks & Anor (2007) QADT 27 case for your reference which under similar premise. In this case I wish to submit a request for the paper to consider an official retraction of the statement and published apology.

I wish to express that should this matter not be conciliated that I intend to escalate this complaint to Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland.

Andrew Fordye

Topics:  editors picks gay lesbian letter to the editor opinion



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