NRL Footy Show host Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin is one of several celebrities to lend his name to a campaign encouraging more inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgender community.
This Is Oz is an online campaign to demonstrate public support for GLBT acceptance and invites both identities and general public to contribute comment, images and further awareness of its message.
So far other television names on the site include Lynne McGranger, Jordan Rodrigues, Charlotte Best, Tessa James and Esther Anderson (all from Home & Away), SBS’ Anton Enus, Virginia Gay, Rhys Bobridge, Julie McCrossin, Jessica Tovey and Ruby Rose.
Vautin’s inclusion in the campaign follows a complaint to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board by gay rights activist Gary Burns who criticised a Footy Show sketch in May in which Matthew Johns played a character named “Elton Johns”. In the sketch, “Elton” is taken to hospital for being gay, with brother Andrew saying “I’m so ashamed of him”.
Burns said he would withdraw the complaint if an apology was issued, including a segment on The Footy Show “explaining the dangers and ramifications of homosexual vilification and the reasons why it is wrong.” Within weeks local Rugby Union team the Sydney Convicts appeared on the show explaining to Vautin why the sketch was offensive.
But Burns has, who took John Laws and Steve Price to the ASB, has since described the appearance by the Convicts as abetting Nine in its apology.
“The Convicts have impinged upon my delivering a remedy of “public interest” dimension for the gay community because the Nine Network will now say at my conciliation hearing [that] a remedy has been delivered by the appearance of the Convicts gay rugby team on the Footy Show,” he wrote in a letter to MCV newspaper.
“I question the timing and the reasons for the Convicts deciding to appear on the Footy Show while my complaint was still under investigation by the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.”