ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has spoken about the persistent homophobic harassment and abuse he receives in the top job.
The safety of politicians has come into the spotlight after recent public calls to murder leaders at Covid-19 “freedom” protests.
Andrew Barr is leader of the Australian Capital Territory. He is Australia’s first openly gay head of government.
Speaking to the Canberra Times, Barr said he “regularly” cops harassment and abuse, much of which is homophobic.
He said most of the threats come through social media. But he had also experienced face-to-face confrontations, including stalking in the past decade.
“I regularly face abuse and harassment and occasionally this escalates to threats,” he said.
“This mostly occurs on social media platforms but also in direct emails and phone calls. Once or twice [it] has spilled over into mainstream media.
“Occasionally, it has extended to repeated face-to-face confrontation.”
He told the publication he was once forced to seek police intervention in a stalking incident.
Barr also added a “stubbornly consistent element of the abuse and harassment is homophobic in nature.”
“I haven’t talked about this experience often,” he said.
“Regrettably, I just factor it in as one of the consequences of holding elected office.
“And, over the years, [I’ve] had to learn new ways to strengthen my resilience against it.”
Andrew Barr says violent threats ‘an ugly stain’ on public life
Andrew Barr was Australia’s first openly gay head of government as Chief Minister in 2014.
He married his partner Anthony Toms in November 2019 on their 20th anniversary.
This month, state premiers including Daniel Andrews and Annastacia Palaszczuk have copped public death threats at the “freedom” protests in capital cities.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the threats have “no place” in Australia but Labor criticised him for adding he understood protesters’ frustrations.
Andrew Barr told the Canberra Times, “No level of ‘frustration’ justifies violent threats against MPs and public officials.
“Politicians from all political parties have experienced violent threats to themselves or their families.
“It is an ugly stain on public life in this country and has to be called out.”
Victorian MP’s daughter attacked in Melbourne
Last Thursday evening, Victorian MP Andy Meddick’s daughter Keilan was hospitalised after a violent altercation on Melbourne’s streets.
Meddick suggested the attack on his daughter, who is transgender, was linked to his support of the Victorian government’s contentious pandemic law.
He said the “insults, threats and intimidation” against him and his family, his staff and his colleagues had left him “desperately worried”.
Victoria Police are investigating the incident.
On Twitter, Scott Morrison “unequivocally condemned” the violent attack on Keilan Meddick.
“This is not on. It has no place in Australia,” he tweeted.
“This is not just an attack on an innocent person but an attack on our very democracy.”
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