A radio presenter has been suspended in Australia for asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a live interview if her partner is gay. Howard Sattler suggested to Ms Gillard that her partner of seven years, Tim Mathieson, had to be homosexual because he was a hairdresser. Ms Gillard characterised his comments as an absurd generalisation.
Mr Sattler has now been suspended by Fairfax Radio, which apologised for the “disrespectful” questioning. The incident on Thursday comes as Australia prepares for a general election on 14 September – one which Ms Gillard looks set to lose to the Tony Abbott-led opposition.
It also comes in a week dominated by a row over the emergence of a menu prepared for an opposition party fund-raiser that made offensive comments about Ms Gillard’s body. Mr Abbott has condemned the menu, for which the owner of the restaurant where the function was held has taken responsibility. But wrangling is continuing over the opposition’s version of events and the role of election candidate Mal Brough, who hosted the event.
Fairfax Radio said Mr Sattler had been suspended from his position at Perth-based 6PR pending an internal inquiry and issued an apology statement. “Fairfax Radio management has reviewed this interview and considers that the questions posed by Mr Sattler were disrespectful and irrelevant to the political debate,” it said. “The PM answered Mr Sattler’s questions with dignity and some patience.”
Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that many women in public office faced a “significant demeaning attitude, sexist questions, invasive questioning”. “It’s got to stop because we want women in public office, we want women to step up and be part of a decision-making of this country… [but] women and young women are put off by what they see.”
Ms Gillard on Friday echoed those comments. ”I want young girls and women to be able to feel like they can be included in public life and not have to face questioning like the questioning I faced yesterday,” she said. – BBC