Youth pan Heffernan’s alleged choice of words
A group of young LGBTIQ students have panned the alleged use of the word ‘poofter’ by Senator Bill Heffernan, saying that although the claims are yet to be proven the community expects better standards from its political representatives.
Police are currently reviewing claims the long-serving Senator was involved in a homophobic assault on 67-year-old Ray Carter, an employee with NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher, on May 3 at a Liberal Party branch meeting on the Central Coast.
According to a statement provided to police, Heffernan struck Carter and later told him: “I didn’t know you were a poofter”.
Heffernan has denied the incident took place with several allies suggesting the claims are payback for Heffernan’s role in tipping off the Liberal Party about Carter’s involvement in a donation scandal which has resulted in Carter being suspended from his position and under investigation by the NSW Electoral Commission.
Wear it Purple co-founder Katherine Hudson said although the claims involving Carter were yet to be proven, Heffernan had a long history of engaging in homophobic behaviour.
“The idea that someone in Australia today still refers to gays as ‘poofters’ reveals an archaic world view that should not be accepted in our society,” Hudson said.
“We worry what the effect of comments like this have on vulnerable young people.”
Katerina Bampos, a 15 year old high school student and queer rights activist, said it was important for the country’s elected officials to help maintain a fair and egalitarian society.
“But this type of behaviour from a well respected adult who is in the eyes of the media not only threatens that image but the emotional stability of youth struggling with accepting their homosexuality,” she said.
Members of the federal Labor Government have called upon Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to stand Heffernan aside but he has so far refused such demands.