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Rugby legend claims skit was homophobic

Actor Ian Roberts, the hunky rugby legend who is openly gay, has joined a lawsuit against an Australian television network over a skit he called homophobic.

Roberts was mentioned during the skit, done like a mockumentary on the Nine Network’s “The Footy Show.” The show aired last year.

The skit was about fictitious rugby siblings Matthew and Andrew Jones and their gay brother Elton Johns. The father tries to dump the gay brother to the hospital, saying, “I want to return this, it’s faulty.”

The gay brother is later asked if he dated Roberts.

“What really hurt me was that they used my name to justify that somehow a gay man who likes rugby and lives up to the stereotypical image of a man is somehow better than a man who doesn’t like sports and is into the arts,” Roberts told Australia’s Geelong Advertiser.

The legal complaint against the network was filed with the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board by activist Gary Burns.

Roberts told news.com.au that he was offended by the sketch because it vilifies gay men.

"The message is sent, that being gay, you're somehow less or not worthy, is unacceptable,'' he said.
"How dare they use my name.''

Roberts said he was hoping the legal action would show that it is unacceptable to ridicule gays.

A network spokesman told the online media that it had already addressed the issue and still rejected the claim the skit vilified gay men.

"Indeed The Footy Show many months ago now ran a segment on this very issue explaining that the skit was in fact satirical comedy which in no way intended any such vilification,'' the spokesman said.

"We'll leave this additional complaint for the tribunal.''

The tribunal could meet as soon as June to determine the outcome of the complaint.