The ‘gratuitous’ kiss that annoyed Sam Newman.Controversial AFL Footy Show host Sam Newman has again been slammed for making homophobic comments after he accused American footballer Michael Sam of an “annoyingly gratuitous act” by kissing his boyfriend on TV.
While it was a gay activist who fought Newman’s anti-gay comments a decade ago, this time it was co-hosts Garry Lyon and James Brayshaw who told the 68-year-old that he was “homophobic” and “off the pace”.
Several in the audience of Wednesday night’s show also booed Newman, who insisted that “no heterosexuals do that when they’re drafted”.Lyon disagreed. “You always see shots of players drafted in basketball or footy, whether they’re with their girlfriends, wives, partners — of course they embrace and kiss,” he said.Newman responded: “Now we’re resigned to do what we’re actually doing, which is talking about it.”
Last weekend, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted into America’s National Football League, kissing his boyfriend on live television upon the announcement.
The footballer has since received widespread praise for showing affection to his partner publicly, including from US President Barack Obama.
In 2004, Sam Newman faced charges over anti-gay comments he made on Channel Nine’s Today show.
In response to a council proposal to make Melbourne the premier Australian gay city, he said that the city didn’t need “mincing, lisping, parading people wandering all over the country”.
Newman later said he was joking, but Sydney gay activist Gary Burns felt differently and lodged a complaint with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.
Newman’s most recent comments provoked immediate criticism on Twitter from viewers, although many were not surprised by the host’s attitude.
Sam Newman’s comment was homophobic. His ignorance in not realising or accepting that after being told by his friends, hurts more. .— Rhett Bartlett (@rhettrospective) May 14, 2014
I’d join in on the roasting of Sam Newman, but what did people think he was going to say? Fossil by name, fossil by values… #TheFootyShow— MagpieBat (@MagpieBat) May 14, 2014
Sam Newman is homophobic. No wonder no player has come out with jerks like him still given airtime. #aflfootyshow— Andrea (@andream75) May 14, 2014
Comedian Felicity Ward recalled the 2004 incident.
This from 2004: “Sam Newman is facing court action and a possible jail term over comments about gays he made on live TV.” #Progress— Felicity Ward (@felicityward) May 14, 2014
Openly gay footballer Jason Ball, who has successfully campaigned the AFL to better recognise issues surrounding homophobia in sport, said he was surprised and disappointed by Newman’s comments.
‘‘I have met Sam Newman, he has heard me speak and even shook my hand afterwards and congratulated me for the stand I have taken,’’ Ball, who plays for the Yarra Glen Football Club, said.
‘‘It’s frustrating to hear people like Sam say they are accepting of gay people, just as long as they don’t do anything ‘gay’ in public. Is Sam Newman going to call for a ban on AFL players bringing their girlfriends or wives to the Brownlow Medal Night? Of course not. It’s a double standard.
‘‘Homophobia, whether it’s casual or overt, causes seriously psychological harm. Young people who are gay are far more likely to suffer depression or attempt suicide as a result of homophobia, so at the end of the day, this is essentially about saving lives.
‘‘What I am encouraged about is that … Garry Lyon and James Brayshaw shut Sam down very quickly and the audience even booed him. To me this shows that attitudes within the football community really have shifted, and that just like racism, homophobia is now also seen as unacceptable.’’
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