Gay activist to sue former Victorian premier over bisexual trainer comments

Sydney gay rights activist Gary Burns is planning to sue Jeff Kennett, Victorian premier (1992-1999) and President of Hawthorn Football Club.

Mr Burns claims that comments made by Mr Kennett over the sacking of a male bisexual football trainer earlier this year were homophobic.

The comments were made when the trainer, Ken Campagnolo, was dismissed by Bonnie Doon Football Club in July. Mr Kennett said of the dismissal:

“The club felt that once [Mr Campagnolo’s sexuality] had been pointed out and you had this gentleman there who was obviously close to young men; massaging young men.

“It ran an unnecessary risk, and that’s why it decided it was best that he not perform those duties again.

“So the club was trying to do the right thing.

“When you are in charge of a group of young boys, as this club was, as I understand it, it’s got to make sure.

“It’s the same if you have a pedophile there as a masseur, right?”

Mr Burns says that he will take Mr Kennet, 60, to the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal for “inciting hate against gay men.”

“We have to use litigation in some areas just to remind people that with their alleged free speech comes responsibility,” he said.

In a case settled earlier this year, Mr Burns successfully sued a Sydney radio station 2UE after comments made by presenter John Laws which were perceived to be homophobic.

If he wins, Mr Burns said he will donate any monetary damages to Twenty10, a charity that helps young LGBT people who have had to leave home due to homophobic family conflict.