Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten has condemned a racially motivated verbal attack, calling it “pathetic” and urging the community to take a stand against racism.
His comments followed a racist verbal attack against a Melbourne-based, Japanese professional ballroom dancer while he was in Launceston for the Tasmanian Open DanceSport Championship on August 12.
Earlier, competition organiser Andrew Palmer said the dancer was verbally harassed and sworn at by a stranger outside a Launceston CBD restaurant because of his appearance.
Alderman van Zetten congratulated Mr Palmer for coming forward with the story, “as difficult as it may be for us as a community to hear”.
“After a fantastic event like this, which brings dollars, visitors and buzz to our city, it's incredibly disappointing to hear about such a disgusting and deplorable incident,” he said.
“However, like any community, we have a minority of sad and small-minded individuals who think they're tough for hassling strangers in the street.”
He urged the community to take a stand against “pathetic” racist attacks.
“As a community we need to call racism and intolerance out if we encounter it, and deplore it in the strongest possible terms,” Alderman van Zetten said.
“The Launceston I know is a welcoming city; we celebrate diversity and we don't care about colours or creeds unless they're on a sports jumper.”
The success of Harmony, the Heritage Forest Community Garden and similar events and initiatives showed Launceston embraced diversity, Alderman van Zetten said.
“I can only say to the victim that the person responsible for this garbage is not representative of Launceston; we're truly sorry this happened.”
However, Migrant Resource Centre Northern Tasmanian chief executive officer Ella Dixon said racism was not out of the ordinary.
“It is unfortunate that discrimination in all forms remains commonplace,” Ms Dixon said.
“Everyone should be able to live their lives without fear or experiencing harrassment, intimidation or discrimination because of their race, she said.
“There is still work to be done because I believe that in Australia we have a high level of low-level intolerance (casual racism).”