Gay rights group to launch complaint over RDS comments
MONTREAL - A Quebec gay rights group plans to file a complaint Monday with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council over comments made at the Olympics by two announcers on French-language sports channel RDS.
The Quebec council of gays and lesbians says it wants a public apology for remarks it deems homophobic from veteran sportscasters Claude Mailhot and Alain Goldberg last Wednesday night.
The remarks came during RDS Olympic coverage of the men's figure skating competition. RDS is owned by CTVGlobeMedia, the parent company of CTV.
Mailhot, a former provincial assistant deputy minister, and Goldberg, were discussing three time U.S. champion Johnny Weir, the flamboyant 23-year-old who had just completed his skate.
"This may not be politically correct," Mailhot said during the segment, in which Weir, who is known for his extravagant performances and fashion flair, was shown sporting a semi-sheer, pink-and-black costume he designed himself.
"But do you think he lost points due to his costume and his body language?"
Goldberg replied that Weir's feminine style may reflect badly on other male figure skaters.
"They'll think all the boys who skate will end up like him," he said. "It sets a bad example."
In the earlier RDS coverage of Weir, Goldberg and Mailhot also brought up South African runner Caster Semenya, who was forced to undergo gender testing following her 2009 win at the world track and field championships in Germany.
"We should make him (Weir) pass a gender test at this point," Goldberg said, and Mailhot then jokingly suggested Weir should compete in the women's competition.
The two broadcasters later offered an on-air apology for their comments.
RDS also issued a statement following the incident.
"All discriminatory statements, or those appearing discriminatory, have neither a place in society nor in media," it said.
"Mr. Mailhot and Mr. Goldberg made tactless comments on the appearance and manner of a figure skater. As soon as they were made aware of the reaction their comments sparked, and because they never meant to defame an individual or a sexual orientation, they decided to offer an apology."
Not enough, group says
But the mea culpas are insufficient, according to Council president Steve Foster.
"They only apologized for the comments they made on his outfit," he said Saturday. "We hadn't even asked for an apology for those remarks. It's the rest of the comments: on his masculinity, his femininity, the fact he should skate as a woman."
When Foster got in touch with RDS, he says he was told not to expect any further public apologies from Mailhot or Goldberg. So he decided to launch the official complaint to the broadcast council, an independent organization created by Canada's English and French private broadcasters to administer on-air standards.
"It's sad, remarks like these," said Foster. "It stops elite athletes from coming out of the closet because they don't want to be ridiculed on a public platform."
RDS spokesman Claude Deraiche said Saturday there would be no further comments by the broadcaster on the issue.
"We'll wait for the complaint to be submitted, if it is," he said. "We'll address it then."
Mailhot and Goldberg aren't the only broadcasters in hot water over comments about Weir. Two Australian commentators, Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy, also made headlines for gay jibes at the skater's expense.