A Quebec gay rights group has filed a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council over comments made about Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir on the French-language sports channel RDS.
On Feb 21, the Quebec Council of Gays and Lesbians (CQGL) launched its complaint demanding an apology from RDS sportscasters Claude Mailhot and Alain Goldberg for homophobic comments the pair made on-air about Weir, an American skater known for his flashy performance style and flamboyant fashion sense.
Mailhot, speaking for himself and Goldberg, apologized for their “tactless comments on the appearance and manner of a figure skater” during a later broadcast. But Steve Foster, CEO of the CQGL, says the apology is insufficient.
“We were not satisfied with the apology given by Claude Mailhot because it was regarding [Weir’s] clothing and appearance, but our main subject was homophobic terms used during the show.”
During coverage of the men’s figure skating competition last week, Mailhot asked Goldberg if he thought that Weir, who came in sixth, lost points because of his costume — a low-cut, pink-and-black outfit with ruffles — and his body language.
Goldberg replied that Weir was setting a “bad example” for other male skaters. “They’ll think all the boys who skate will end up like him,” he said.
The pair also wisecracked that Weir should undergo gender testing and should compete in women’s events.
“We don’t know if Johnny Weir is gay or not and for us it’s not important,” Foster says. “What is important is that nobody deserves to be treated like that in the public space.”
If the RDS gives the CQGL a real apology, Foster says the organization will accept it and take no further action. “But if they don’t apologize properly, we just wish the commission will give them blame for their actions on the program.”
Pamela Mollica, spokesperson for RDS through Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, did not return requests for an interview by press time.
In response to the incident, the RDS has issued a statement declaring, “All discriminatory statements, or those appearing discriminatory, have neither a place in society nor in media.”
Weir’s publicists did not respond to requests for an interview by press time either. But Pink News, a European online gay news service, reported Feb 23 that Weir, who refuses to publicly reveal his sexual orientation, shrugged off the comment on gender testing.
“Every little boy should be so lucky as to turn into me. And that’s all I have to say about that.”