Alan Joyce, the openly gay chief executive of Qantas, is to take legal action against the man who pied him in the face on Monday.
The Australian airlines boss said ‘I have every intention of pressing charges.’ It has also emerged that the culprit opposes same-sex marriage.
It was reported by ABC.net.au that the pie-thrower wanted to make a political statement on the issue.
— Dan Conifer (@DanConifer) May 10, 2017
The publication identified the man as Tony Overheu, a 67-year-old former farmer, adding that police have charged him with providing false details. Other outlets have reported that Overheu is a devout Christian.
In March, Joyce wrote a opinion piece on the Qantas website supporting gay marriage.
In it, he also discussed whether companies and CEOs should express views on social issues, arguing that they should.
Joyce told reporters today: ‘The police are continuing their investigation and my intention is to send a message that this type of behaviour isn’t acceptable and that I will have every intention of pressing charges.’
He continued: ‘I have every intention to continue to be vocal on those social and community issues.
‘It’s important for our shareholders, our employees, and our customers. It’s called good corporate social responsibility.
‘I’m a big believer in the great Australian expression “a fair government, it’s all about giving people equality.”‘
He furthermore said: ‘Qantas has always spoken up on gender issues, on LGBTI issues, on Indigenous issues. And we will continue to do so and no attempt at bullying us into suppressing our voice will work.’
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) May 10, 2017
He added the man didn’t seem remorseful. He said: ‘I believe he sent me an email… and I believe there has been an apology coming in but I’m not sure there’s any regret at the issue that has occurred.’
The publication further quotes Overheu as saying: ‘On the west coast there’s limited opportunity to have connection with national figures. From my reading, it would appear that Alan Joyce is very much part of a network trying to subvert the federal parliamentary process around the issue of marriage equality.’
He furthermore said: ‘I’ve never done that sort of thing. I’m a law-abiding person. But I think this is part of inevitable pushback.’
He added: ‘When the community is grumpy, figures who are overstepping the line have got to anticipate there will be pushback in some shape or form.’
Joyce was at a business breakfast presenting to 500 people when the incident occurred. He was at the Hyatt Regency hotel discussing Qantas’ direct London to Perth route.
Gay marriage is not legal in Australia, and is an ongoing topic of national debate.
Gay Star Ness has contacted Qantas and Western Australia Police for comment.