Sydney official ‘compared neighbour’s rainbow to ISIS flag’

Daniel Comesoli outside of his apartment with a rainbow hanging from his balcony.

A Sydney councillor was fined $2,500 (£1,400) on Monday (August 5) after allegedly comparing her neighbour’s rainbow flag to that of ISIS.

Daniel Comensoli hung the rainbow flag from his balcony in Ashfield on November 15, 2017, in celebration of Australia’s “yes” vote for equal marriage.

A tribunal heard how he was told by his then-neighbour, Councillor Julie Passas, that the flag was “offensive to [her] culture and religion.”

Accoring to ABC News, Passas told Comensoli that same-sex couples should not have the right to marry “until you can breastfeed and have children.”

Sydney councillor called LGBT+ neighbour ‘disgusting’

Comensoli said that Passas continued the abuse into the next day, and was later heard telling another neighbour that he and his housemate were “disgusting people.”

After the row, Passas began lobbying other residents of their building to have Comensoli evicted, the tribunal heard, leading him to make a formal complaint.

When police visited, she was reportedly overheard saying that “the rainbow flag was as offensive as the flag of ISIS.”

You shouldn’t have the right to marry until you can breastfeed and have children.

Passas, a Liberal councillor of Sydney’s Inner West Council, denied making the ISIS comparison and said that she had objected to the flag because of rules regarding balconies.

She accused Comensoli of turning the argument “into a gay issue,” but later admitted that she found the rainbow offensive “because of what it stands for.”

Julie Passas ordered to publish apology

The Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that Passas’ words on November 15 amounted to anti-LGBT vilification, and ordered her to pay $2,500 (£1,400) in compensation. Her subsequent actions did not qualify as vilification, the tribunal found.

Julie Passas

Julie Passas. (Inner West Council)

As well as the fine, Passas was also instructed to publish an apology in a local newspaper, including the words: “On the day of the historic ‘Yes vote’ … I publicly yelled abuse at Mr Comensoli, which has been determined by the NSW Civil and Administration Tribunal to amount to homosexual vilification.”

Inner West Council told ABC that it would not take action against the councillor, a former deputy mayor, because she was acting as a private citizen at the time of the incident.