Australian Speaker in hot water over gay sexual harassment

Australian Speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Slipper, in hot water over gay sexual harassment allegations

Australian Speaker in hot water over gay sexual harassment
21 April 2012

Peter Slipper, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Australia has been called by the Federal Opposition to step aside while allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer are before court.

Mr Slipper, who took to Twitter this morning claiming that ‘The allegations in News Ltd papers are denied!’, is accused of only hiring 33-year-old James Ashby for the sole purpose of pursuing a sexual relationship with him.

The application filed on behalf of Mr Ashby by Harmers Workplace Lawyers, the same representatives of Kristy Anne Fraser-Kirk in her successful case against ex David Jones chief executive, Mark McInnes (who later resigned over the claims), states that Mr Slipper made unwelcome advances and sent him explicit text messages.

Mr Ashby, who revealed to Mr Slipper he was gay soon after he was hired, claims that just a month after starting work, Mr Slipper asked him ‘have you ever c… in a guy’s a… before?’ He also states that several weeks later he was asked whether he preferred ‘twinks or bears’.

According to the application that was filed in Federal Court yesterday, it also mentions that Mr Slipper asked Mr Ashby to shower with the bathroom door open at his Canberra home and in a series of text messages, Mr Slipper sent Mr Ashby in February, he asked his staffer “if you are interested we could be closer.”

Opposition leader Tony Abbot, although in support of Mr Slipper’s entitlement to ‘the presumption of innocence’, did remark to press that Mr Slipper has ‘quite a lot of explaining to do.’

‘These are matters that are now to be the subject of proceedings in court, so these are of a vastly more serious and substantial nature than anything that has been alleged against Mr Slipper in the past.’

Mr Abbott also made it clear that the Speaker’s role was to uphold the integrity of parliament and that Mr Slipper should step aside throughout the duration.

Government Leader of the House Anthony Albanese told reporters this morning that he was unaware of the allegations before reading about them in the newspaper.

"It isn't appropriate to comment on the detail of legal proceedings of which, obviously, I would have no knowledge," he said.

"It's important that we recognise the separation between the judicial arm and the political arm of the state."

However, Mr Albanese did comment that Mr Slipper had done a ‘very good job’ in his position as Speaker.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is yet to comment.

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