Oz ’Family Values’ Office Holder Resigns After Being Filmed Leaving Bath House

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday May 20, 2010

In a revelation that carries shades of the George Rekers scandal, an Australian government official has resigned his ministerial post amid allegations that he used a government vehicle to drive to a sex club.

David Campbell, formerly the Transportation Minister for New South Wales, was filmed allegedly leaving a gay sex club called Ken's at Kensington, located in a suburb of Sydney, reported local channel News 7 on May 20. News 7 had previously broadcast footage that purported to show Campbell leaving the establishment on May 18. Shortly afterward, Campbell resigned his ministerial position, though he retains his seat as a minister of Parliament with the Labor Party.

Campbell had "campaigned strongly and successfully as a family man" in races for political office over the last 11 years, the News 7 report said.

"This will be a very difficult time for my family and friends," Campbell said in a statement.

The sex club charges about $18 for admission, the report said, and offers a sauna, spa, and "porn lounge."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in a May 20 article that Campbell cited "personal reasons" for his departure from the ministerial post. "I apologize to my wife, family, colleagues, staff and the community for letting them down," said Campbell, who is the father of two grown sons. "This will be a very difficult time for my family and friends and I ask for their privacy to be respected."

The Sydney Morning Herald said that Campell did not use his driver to get to the club, but drove himself in the taxpayer-funded vehicle.

The development was reminiscent of recent American scandals. Last March 3, California state Sen. Roy Ashburn was pulled over by police at about 2:00 a.m. when his state-issued vehicle was observed being driven erratically. The driver, identified as Ashburn, was taken in and charged for driving under the influence. News reports said that Ashburn had been at Faces, a popular gay nightspot, prior to his arrest. As a politician, Ashburn--a father of four--had been vehemently opposed to GLBT equality and had led an anti-gay rally.

Ashburn issued an apology, stating, "I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did."

Earlier this month, a Florida newspaper, The Miami New Times, reported on a trip to Europe taken by George Rekers, co-founder of the anti-gay Family Research Council. Rekers had taken a 20-year-old male escort named Jo-vanni Roman with him on the trip. Rekers claimed that Roman was along to serve as a luggage porter, but the young man said that his duties did not include hoisting luggage; however, Roman told the press, he did administer daily erotic massage to Rekers. At the time, Rekers was a board member of NARTH, an "ex-gay" organization that claims that homosexuality can be "cured." Rekers had also served as a paid expert witness in at least two court cases in which state governments sought to defend laws denying gay and lesbian families adoption rights.

The issue of "outing" closeted lawmakers and activists who work against full legal equality and family parity for gays and lesbians is a contentious one. Those who favor outing closeted anti-gay or "family values" politicians say that such outings shine a light on hypocrisy; others say coming out is a private matter best left to the discretion of the individual.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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