Australia: Radio host sacked for asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard if her partner is gay

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A radio presenter who asked Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a live interview if her partner is gay has been sacked.

Howard Sattler, of Perth-based 6PR, suggested to Ms Gillard on Thursday that her partner of seven years, Tim Mathieson, had to be gay because he was a hairdresser.

Ms Gillard, a staunch opponent of marriage rights for same-sex couples, branded the question “absurd”.

“Tim’s gay?” Mr Sattler asked the prime minister.

“Well that’s absurd,” Ms Gillard replied.

“But you hear it,” Mr Sattler continued. “He must be gay; he’s a hairdresser. It’s not me saying it.”

Following the interview Mr Sattler was suspended by Fairfax Radio.

The station’s general manager then announced on air on Friday that Mr Sattler had been sacked and released a statement.

“Fairfax Radio management has reviewed this interview and considers that the questions posed by Mr Sattler were disrespectful and irrelevant to the political debate,” it said.

“The PM answered Mr Sattler’s questions with dignity and some patience.”

Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that many women in public office faced a “significant demeaning attitude, sexist questions, invasive questioning”.

Ms Gillard on Friday echoed those comments.

”I want young girls and women to be able to feel like they can be included in public life and not have to face questioning like the questioning I faced yesterday,” she said.

Mr Sattler has threatened to take legal action against his former station following his dismissal.

Despite championing gender equality Ms Gillard ruled out introducing equal marriage in May following neighbouring New Zealand’s decision to introduce the measure.

Rodney Croome, national convener of Australian Marriage Equality, said: “The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be happy for New Zealand but deeply embarrassing their own country is lagging so far behind.”