Josh Thomas Called Out Bob Katter For Homophobia On Last Night’s #QandA
"You deny the existence of homosexuals in north Queensland. They exist, there’s an app called Grindr, I’ll put it on your phone."
As part of the ABC’s Mental As week, last night’s Q and A was themed around mental health. On the panel was mental health expert and psychiatry professor Patrick McGorry; mental health worker, academic and sufferer Louise Byrne; Dr Jennifer Bowers, the managing director of the Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health; Katter’s Australian Party founder, Bob Katter; and comedian, writer and actor, Josh Thomas.
It was an interesting show, covering mental health and suicide from a variety of angles, but the best bit came towards the end, when an audience member confronted Bob Katter about his stance against homosexuality — particularly a 2012 attack-ad campaign against Campbell Newman, in which Katter capitalised on, and in many ways attempted to incite, homophobia.
“I would say that your reluctance to address homosexuals, as well as their civil rights, is quite detrimental to their mental health,” the audience member said. Katter batted her off, claiming that it’s not an issue or a priority in his electorate — an eerie call-back to 1989, when he infamously claimed he didn’t represent any gay people.
Josh Thomas wasn’t having it. “You say that it’s not a priority, but you talk about it quite a bit,” he said. “And when you do talk about it, you say awful things.”
“If you’re going to go out there as an elected member of Parliament, and deny the existence of homosexuals in your electorate — which is kooky; adorable, but kooky — of course people are going to get upset,” he continued. “I spent the day Googling you and you’re adorable. You say a lot of really important, powerful things … But then when you go out and deny the existence of homosexuals in north Queensland – they exist, there’s an app called Grindr, I’ll put it on your phone – you disenfranchise the community.”
“I spoke earlier about guys being afraid of talking about their feeling, and afraid of being feminine, afraid of looking gay,” Thomas continued. “That is all tied to the kind of homophobic talk you get all through society. If you are trying to talk about mental health, on one hand saying this is very important, but these guys don’t matter, then the whole community just falls apart.”
“I’ve most certainly been guilty of cracking jokes upon myself, upon just about everyone,” Katter said, before Thomas jumped in again: “I don’t think it’s a joke. I don’t think you were joking.”
“I defy you to find a single statement that I have made in [the last seven years] on this issue,” Katter retorted. “Because I’ve been bashed up [about this] and I think fair call, I better behave myself in this area.”
Here, Tony Jones stepped in: “It’s nice to hear that you may consider yourself to have evolved in some way. But it wasn’t only people like Josh, but your own half brother, who has accused you of making dangerous and hurtful statements about homosexual people.”
“You’ve got an ad – and you can still see it on YouTube – from the Katter Australia Party, about how homosexuals are evil,” Thomas said. “You said they don’t exist. For you then to turn around and say you haven’t said homophobic things is just ridiculous.
“All you need to do — all you need to do — is say, ‘You know what, I’ve said some stuff in the past, it was a mistake. I understand now it’s hurting people’s mental health, it’s part of the problem, not part of the solution, I’m sorry. Hooray for gay people. Here’s some glitter.’ That’s it! Fixed it!'”
It’s not the first time Bob Katter and his party have been called out for homophobia on Q and A. It’s not the first time he’s dismissed it, either: