Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich says he been inundated with abuse and threats, some of which he has forwarded on to police, after he was subjected to a vulgar homophobic tweet made by Mark Latham.
On Wednesday, Mr Greenwich confirmed he would launch defamation proceedings in the Federal Court against the NSW One Nation leader. Previously, Mr Latham had a deadline of May 17 to publicly apologise for the vile tweet shared in March. However, Mr Latham rejected Mr Greenwich’s offer to remedy the situation outside of court.
In addition to filing for defamation, Mr Greenwich has also lodged a police complaint against Mr Latham on the grounds of using a carriage service to menace, harass and offend, plus a complaint with Anti-Discrimination NSW for homosexual vilification.
The popular Sydney MP called Mr Latham an “influential person” and said the upper house MP’s behaviour “has manifested into a great deal of attacks and abuse” being directed at him.
“My office is inundated with abusive emails and, in some cases, threats that I’ve had to report to police as a result of Mr Latham’s ongoing commentary and sexualised attacks on me,” he said.
“It is important when people attack your character, when people seek to reduce you to a sex act, when people seek to incite others to abuse intimidate and humiliate you that you take action, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Mr Greenwich will be represented by Dowson Turco Lawyers, Sophie Jeliba and Matt Collins AM KC.
Downson Turco partner Nicholas Stewart said Mr Greenwich’s legal team would be seeking maximum and aggravated damages against Mr Latham.
He said it was “evident” that Mr Latham had engaged in defamatory behaviour.
“Defamation is not just reducing someone’s character but also exposing someone to ridicule, contempt or hatred,” Mr Stewart said.
“He is constantly attacked by people who have held prejudices towards the LGBT community. That is visible in the media but also on social media.”
‘Not going to be an easy process’
With Mr Greenwich’s legal team set to file defamation proceedings in the coming day, Mr Greenwich acknowledged that it would not be “an easy process”; however, he said he was no longer “willing to take this or ignore this”.
“If that means I’ve got to go through an emotionally gruelling and financially gruelling legal process, I will do that,” he said.
Mr Greenwich also acknowledged his good support network, including “a great electorate, a great family, and a loving and supportive husband”.
Climate 200, which backed teal independent candidates during the state federal elections, will financially contribute to Mr Greenwich’s legal fight. In a recent update, one donor has committed to matching a further $25,000 that could increase the funding pool to $75,000.
“I understand today Climate 200 has raised somewhere between $25,000 to $30,000 towards this legal case and there’s obviously a subsequent donation that’s being made,” he said.
“Importantly, should we be awarded costs in this matter, those funds will either be returned or provided to other LGBTI organisations.”
Greenwich: ‘Enough is enough’
The offensive tweet in question – since removed from Mr Latham’s Twitter account – was posted seven weeks ago, and has been widely condemned for its graphic and homophobic nature.
The tweet was made after Mr Greenwich called Mr Latham a “disgusting human being” after LGBTQ+ protesters were attacked outside a forum where Mr Latham was a speaker during the NSW election.
Earlier this month, Mr Greenwich, who is openly gay, confirmed his legal team had sent Mr Latham a notice on April 19; however, the One Nation leader continued to talk about the independent MP’s sexuality, including in a radio interview earlier this month.
Mr Greenwich – who has been an MP for a decade – has maintained Mr Latham’s tweet was the most “homophobic, sexualised attack that exposed me to contempt, ridicule, and extreme abuse based on my sexuality”.
“Enough is enough,” Mr Greenwich said earlier this month.
Mr Latham has refused to apologise, instead tweeting “never apologise, never explain”.
Federal One Nation leader Pauline Hanson initially condemned the tweet but walked back this week to throw her support behind Mr Latham.
In an interview earlier this week, Senator Hanson said she remained disappointed by Mr Latham’s conduct, but she would be seeking answers at a meeting with her NSW colleagues in coming weeks.
She said he was doing an “excellent job” representing the party in NSW.
Mr Greenwich has made a formal complaint to police against Mr Latham, accusing the One Nation MP of using a carriage service to harass and offend. He has also lodged a complaint of homosexual vilification to the anti-discrimination board.
Both investigations are ongoing.