A former deputy mayor of a Sydney council must pay compensation after vilifying a gay neighbour in a dispute over a rainbow flag.
Inner West councillor Julie Passas’ former neighbour, Daniel Camensoli, took the dispute to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The row began on November 15, 2017, just hours after the announcement of Australia’s same-sex marriage “yes” vote.
Sydney man Daniel Comensoli celebrated by draping a rainbow flag over the railing outside his apartment in the suburb of Ashfield.
But Ms Passas, Comensoli’s neighbour, asked the man to remove the flag, describing it as “offensive to my culture and religion”. She allegedly said he should not be able to marry “until you could breastfeed and have children,” the tribunal heard.
The tribunal heard the harassment continued in the following days.
Mr Camensoli claimed Ms Passas told other residents Comensoli and his housemate were “disgusting people”. She allegedly encouraged them to report them to the apartment’s owners in an effort to have them evicted.
On November 18, Mr Comensoli called the police. She was then allegedly overheard telling police the rainbow flag “was as offensive as the flag of ISIS”.
Comensoli awarded compensation in rainbow flag dispute
Julie Passas denied making the comparison to the ISIS banner, but admitted she had invoked it as “an analogy”.
She said the rainbow flag was “against what I believe in” and was “offensive to people because of what it stands for”.
She admitted to the tribunal she had asked Daniel Camensoli to remove the flag from his balcony. But she denied she had done so in “an aggressive, loud, or offensive manner.”
Ms Passas said her neighbour had “turned it into a gay issue” when it was about strata rules prohibiting items hanging off balconies.
The Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled on Monday that Mr Comensoli’s complaint of “unlawful homosexual vilification” had been substantiated.
Ms Passas must pay $2,500 in compensation and publish an apology in a New South Wales newspaper.
At the time, Comensoli documented the incident on his Facebook page.
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