Ex-NRL and Manly Sea Eagles star Ian Roberts calls out Larry Pickering for “homophobic” pillow-biter line
February 21, 2017 12:00am
GAY ex-rugby league hardman Ian Roberts has told terminally ill Larry Pickering to repeat “homophobic” remarks to his face as the latter shrugs off a discrimination law suit.
But terminally ill Pickering – told by doctors it’s a matter of when not if his cancer returns – is refusing to go to the grave quietly, saying he’d knock Roberts out and couldn’t give a stuff about court action.
“I’m saying what I think, if you don’t like it, screw you,” Pickering said.
On top of infuriating Roberts, the Gold Coast-based cartoonist is being sued by anti-discrimination campaigner Garry Burns for his reference to “pillow-biters” at a Sydney function this month.
Burns lodged the case after Pickering, 75, told a Q Society fundraiser he couldn’t stand Muslims but “they’re not all bad, they do chuck pillow-biters off buildings”.
Pickering has since dismissed the remarks as a joke and said anyone who “who believes that is a fool”, adding he had gay friends including a golfing buddy.
“The thought of me condoning throwing homosexuals off buildings is ridiculous,” he said.
But in a wideranging interview with the Bulletin since the outcry, Pickering refused to amend his outspoken ways, giving sprays to Islam, Christianity and his own doctors.
He shared ex-NRL star Roberts’ personal message with the Bulletin. It challenges Pickering to “repeat your homophobic remarks to me face-to-face”.
“I will meet you anywhere, anytime, any place. I’m absolutely confident you are too much the coward to confront someone who may just test your sense of manliness,” Roberts writes.
“Hugs Larry, Ian …(a massive pillow biter) … x.”
Pickering said he’d meet Roberts “wherever he likes”.
“I would knock him out,” Pickering said, adding he “didn’t give a stuff” about the Burns lawsuit.
“It doesn’t worry me,” he said. “I won’t be spending a cent on solicitors.
“I’m going overboard because people want free speech but they only want their sort of free speech.
“I’ve had people write terrible things about me on my blog site but I’m not going to ban them because I believe in free speech.”
Sydney-based Roberts responded to Pickering’s threat to “knock him out” by saying “tell him Ian sends kisses and hugs”.
“You’d like to think someone his age would have found some kind of peace with the world,” Roberts said.
In a wideranging interview, Pickering – a former award-winning cartoonist for The Australian newspaper – admitted he talked a lot of “bravado crap”.
And then he didn’t hold back.
He said he convinced campaigners objecting to a proposed Currumbin mosque in 2015 to do so on the basis “Islamic teachings don’t fit well into the Australian landscape”.
“Everything else does … Italians, Greeks, Indians, whoever. But for some reason Islam doesn’t allow adherence to assimilate with us.
“If you clear Muslims out of here, we’d be a great multicultural society. I’ve made friends with Muslims but I don’t trust them. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could spit. Because they are taught I’m an apostate, a criminal in their eyes.”
ON RELIGIONS INCLUDING CHRISTIANITY
“If you want to criticise Islam you have to criticise the other ones too. You can’t just say this one is wrong and this one is right. They are all a load of s***. What religion does is inhibits your mind.”
He reckoned he was turfed out of home by strictly Christadelphian parents in his mid-teens because he wouldn’t buy into the “horrible cult” and refused to be baptised.
“They dunk you in the bath and all your sins are forgotten – crazy bastards.”
ON HIS DOCTORS
They removed one of his lungs last year and predicted in August he would be dead from cancer within three months.
He refused chemotherapy and says now he’s offending them by still breathing and putting on weight.
“They are angry I’m still alive … because it makes them wrong. I kept getting into blues at hospital with the surgeon who was going to be cutting me open and I thought to myself ‘I probably shouldn’t argue with this bloke – shut up, Pickering!’.”
ON HIS WIFE
The father of 11 has two children aged six and nine with Carol, his Chinese wife of the past 10 years who he met at a dinner party.
“I said ‘What are you like in bed?’ and I think you slapped me.”
Carol: “The first thing you expect people to say is ‘How are you?’ but he says ‘Are you good in bed?’. I said ‘Yeah I like sleeping’. I thought he was a crazy Aussie. He was testing me, my English or my manner or something.”
Carol, 45, admitted it had been difficult to hear her husband referred to as a “scumbag” on TV news after his pillow-biters remark: “He does do good things.”
Pickering laughs, takes a drag on his cigarette, and says: “Don’t spoil my reputation.”
ROBERTS: WHY PICKERING IS SO WRONG
GAY ex-NRL star Ian Roberts says he’s impossible to offend but responded to Larry Pickering’s “pillow-biters” remark to stick up for those struggling with their sexuality.
The Sydney-based former rugby league international, one of the first high-profile sportspeople to come out as gay in the mid-1990s, said he felt compelled to challenge Pickering personally.
“There is a ripple effect,” he said. “Those kind of comments are the sort of thing responsible for young kids taking their own lives. People making these comments don’t realise.”
Roberts said he was mortified someone would make such remarks in public.
“I would like to think we are moving forward with the whole equality thing and we are – but in many ways we aren’t,” he said.
“Larry can say no one should take it seriously but people do and it’s such familiar rhetoric for people who are gay, I’m sick of it.”
Originally published as Pickering going down swinging