Politician who ‘compared neighbour’s Pride flag to ISIS’ faces calls for deselection

Daniel Comensoli Pride flag

Julie Passas, an Australian politician who was fined two years ago for allegedly comparing her neighbour’s Pride flag to that of ISIS, is facing renewed calls for deselection.

The Sydney councillor was found guilty of “unlawful homosexual vilification” in 2019 after reportedly saying the “rainbow flag” that her neighbour hung from his balcony “was as offensive as the flag of ISIS”. She denied making the comparison, but was ordered to pay $2,500 in compensation to her neighbour, Daniel Comensoli.

Two years after the incident, Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne is calling for the Liberal party to oppose Julie Passas’s candidacy in the upcoming September council elections. He wrote in a Facebook post on Friday (9 April) that “no one who homosexually vilifies their neighbour should be in public office in the Inner West or anywhere else”.

“The Inner West is the beating heart of Sydney’s LGBTIQ community and is famous for our diversity and inclusion,” Byrne said. “There should be no place for bigotry amongst elected representatives here.”

As such, he called on the New South Wales Liberal party to “do the right thing and cancel councillor Passas’s preselection as a Liberal candidate immediately”.

Just a day before he called on Julie Passas to be removed as a candidate for the upcoming election, Darcy accused her of conspiring to have him removed as mayor with another council member.

The claim came after the outgoing general manager of the Inner West Council, Brian Barrett, said Byrne had a personal staff entourage worth more than $538,000 per year, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In response, Byrne accused Barrett of coordinating with Julie Passas to have a motion tabled for an upcoming council meeting to have him removed from office. But Passas “categorically” denied the allegation, saying that the claim she “conspired with Brian is absolutely shocking”.

Julie Passas has long been a controversial political figure in the region.

In 2020, she was ordered to pay $11,213 to a fellow Liberal party member after accusing him of beating his wife at a Liberal Party annual general meeting in 2016. Australian news website news.com.au reported that Julie Passas was described as a “well-known stirrer” by the supreme court judge. She was found guilty of defamation after she claimed Robert Balzola, a fellow Liberal Party member, was a “criminal” who “beats his wife”.

PinkNews has contacted the Liberal Party and Julie Passas for comment on this development.