Court action by Sydney gay activist Gary Burns against the NRL Footy Show has seen former footballer Ian Roberts sign as a co-complainant.
The 2009 skit featured a fictitious gay brother of troubled NRL siblings Andrew and Matthew Johns, called ‘Elton Johns’.
“I want to return this,” said Johns’ father Gary in the skit. “It’s faulty.”
Elton Johns, portrayed by Matthew Johns, said: “Dad only knew I was gay when he walked in on me and my boyfriend Ian (Roberts).”
The skit sparked controversy last year after Burns lodged a complaint with the the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. Nine claimed the skit was taken out of context and has since apologised to Burns. Part of Burns’ request for conciliation was to require The Footy Show “explaining the dangers and ramifications of homosexual vilification and the reasons why it is wrong.”
In June the show included a segment on gay rugby union team the Sydney Convict Rugby Club in which vice president Matt Vagulans criticised the skit’s poor humour. By July Paul “Fatty” Vautin was even actively promoting a campaign against homophobia.
Roberts will now testify against Nine in the upcoming Administrative Decisions Tribunal court case, telling gay & lesbian newspaper SX, “I’ve signed on with Gary, that was always my intention, and I’m willing to do whatever I can to make sure Channel Nine and The Footy Show don’t get away with this.
“The Footy Show belittled and degraded gay kids and effeminate kids in that disgusting skit, and they dragged my name into it, and I’m not going to let that pass.”
The former sports star turned actor who has had roles in Nine’s Underbelly and Sea Patrol said, “How f***ing dare they drag me into something that degrades and belittles gay people.”
Gary Burns (coincidentally the same name of the Footy Show executive producer) has said he wants the matter remedied in the public interest, and any damages would be donated to the Luncheon Club AIDS Support Group and Twenty10 youth group.
A spokesman for the Nine Network said it had already addressed the issue and still rejected the claim the skit vilified gay men.
Johns is no longer part of the Nine Network and tipped to sign with Seven shortly.