I did not abuse Lucy: Burns

I did not abuse Lucy

A gay rights campaigner has defended himself from claims that he verbally abused and physically intimidated Wentworth MP Malcolm Turnbull‘s wife Lucy over the weekend.

Gary Burns, famous for suing John Laws when he used the term “pillow-biter” on air, encountered Mrs Turnbull on Saturday.

Mr Burns launched a tirade of abuse at Mrs Turnbull, leaving her shaken, The Daily Telegraph reported today.

In response Mr Turnbull complained to the Labor Party, stating Mr Burns was a Labor volunteer and therefore the party’s responsibility, the newspaper said.

Today Mr Burns said he had done nothing more than make his point “passionately”, and said he had not been acting as a Labor Party volunteer.

“I did not have a Kevin 07 shirt on, I was not representing the Labor Party,” Mr Burns said. He did confirm he has acted as an ALP volunteer once in recent times, when he escorted Bob Hawke on tour of the federal seat in Sydney’s eastern suburbs last week.

What Mr Burns said he did was challenge Mrs Turnbull about her husband’s recent lack of support for a Democrat-initiated bill that proposed ending discrimination against homosexuals in 58 areas of law.

Both major parties supported only one of the 58 recommendations, involving superannuation benefits for deceased partners.

Mr Burns said he was on his way to a shop to buy the newspaper on Saturday when he spotted Mrs Turnbull.

“I said to Lucy: ‘Is Malcolm 57?’ ” he said this morning.

“She looked at me and said: ‘What do you mean?’

“I said there’s 58 … recommendations and he’s only supported one.”

He then “expressed his view with passion” he said, before walking off. The conversation lasted about 30 seconds and at no point was he physically aggressive or verbally abusive, he said.

“It was just a bit of argy bargy … I’ve done nothing wrong. Why should I apologise?

“There was no swearing, there was no touching her, it was just a passionate plea for equality for gay men and lesbians … you don’t just win a seat in Parliament and stay there like a crab sitting in the sun.”

He said people sometimes reacted poorly to him because of his passion.

“I think what people find with Gary Burns is passion, you need passion to change things … I’m a dogged individual; it’s about standing up to bullies and bringing about a common society for everybody.”

He said Mrs Turnbull was just upset because he had been accusing her and her husband of failing to act on gay issues.

“I’ve been campaigning in the gay media about the inaction of Turnbull on these local issues.

“What he does is send his wife [who] sips sauvignon blanc and waves her pinky finger out to the gay community.”

A spokesman for the Turnbulls later called Mr Burns’s behaviour “abusive, offensive and intimidatory”.

“There are many witnesses who can attest to that, as Mr Burns knows full well.”

Dylan Welch
November 12, 2007 - 3:27PM
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