Sun, Oct 26, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Jerry Lewis offends gay community with another slur

NOT THE FIRST TIME Lewis apologized last year for using the term ‘illiterate faggot’ in Las Vegas during his annual Labor Day telethon

AP , CANBERRA

Veteran comedian Jerry Lewis is under fire again for making an anti-gay slur on Australian television similar to one he apologized for using on his annual US telethon a year ago.

The so-called 82-year-old “king of comedy” dropped the slur when he was asked by a Network Ten national TV reporter following a press conference in Sydney on Friday for his opinion on the Australian national sport of cricket.

“Oh, cricket? It’s a fag game. What are you, nuts?” Lewis replied.

The network broadcast the comment in full on its Friday evening news bulletin along with footage of Lewis handling an imaginary cricket bat with an effeminate gesture.

Lewis apologized in September last year for using the term “illiterate faggot” in Las Vegas during his annual Labor Day telethon that raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In a statement released a day later, he described the slur as a “bad choice of words.”

New York-based media discrimination watchdog Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, called for Lewis to apologize again.

GLAAD president Neil Giuliano said in a statement that “in an effort to be humorous, he has once again managed to offend and defame the gay community.”

“For someone so well-known for helping others, Mr. Lewis shows an incredible lack of dignity and respect when he makes comments that contribute to a climate of intolerance,” Giuliano said.

The Australian Coalition for Equality, a gay rights group, also called for an apology.

“Mr. Lewis is widely admired by many people for his talent and his charity work, so his words carry great weight,” coalition spokesman Rodney Croome said on Saturday.

“He owes an apology to the gay community, to cricketers and to comedians for debasing their trade with his cheap homophobia,” Croome said.

The comedian’s Australian spokeswoman, Julie Cavanagh, said yesterday that Lewis did not intend to comment.

Lewis held Friday’s press conference to promote his latest stage show that is touring Australia. It is a retrospective of his career that includes show tunes with a 24-piece band, excerpts from his scores of movies and television shows, and his trademark slapstick comedy.

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