The owner of a kebab shop in the heart of Sydney’s gay district has said a homophobic and violent Facebook meme was just “a joke” after copping a boycott from angry locals.
Ziftekhar Hasan runs Yilmaz Grill and Bakehouse in the inner-city suburb of Waterloo.
This month, Hasan shared a Facebook meme reading, “Why should gay people have rights when we don’t even have the right to not have to put up with seeing them in public?”
It also featured an image of a figure kicking a person holding a rainbow flag. The captions also read, “Share if you’re against gay people,” and “If you support these clowns unfriend me.”
Initially, Hasan doubled down on the meme in the comments, claiming “none of my customers are gay”. However he later posted a lengthy apology responding to the backlash.
“I would sincerely ask you guys for your forgiveness. It wasn’t meant at picking a fight or cause division,” he wrote.
“I hope you guys can find it in your heart to forgive me and accept my apology.”
He blamed the outburst on an incident involving a friend who he says was sexually assaulted by a gay person.
But many locals responded by saying the actions of an individual don’t reflect the community as a whole.
“Apology NOT accepted,” one local wrote.
Others flooded the restaurant’s Facebook page with bad reviews, sending the restaurant’s rating tumbling to 1.7 stars. Hasan later shut the Facebook page down.
Kebab shop owner says homophobic meme ‘a joke’
This week, Hasan told A Current Affair he wasn’t homophobic and the Facebook post was “just a joke” and not his views.
“It’s not about me being homophobic, it’s just me sharing a meme that I’ve seen online,” he said.
“I don’t hate anybody… Everybody makes mistakes in life, we live, we learn, we move on.”
But the suburb’s LGBTIQ community and allies aren’t laughing.
One reviewer wrote: “I found out that the owner of this establishment invited hatred against LGBTQ+ people but has his shop in a predominantly LGBTQ+ area. Can anyone say, market analysis?”
A local man told A Current Affair he has little sympathy for Hasan over the backlash.
“It’s kind of silly, especially knowing the demographics of this place which is pretty gay-friendly,” the local said.
One local, Drew, told the program, “It was quite a big hatred move and he deserves all the backlash.
“[The apology] wasn’t genuine as far as I’m concerned.”
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