Democratic Florida lawmaker Al Jacquet is under fire for referring to his primary opponent as a “batty boy” – and is now accusing his critics of racism.
The politician, who has sat in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016, came under fire for referring to Omari Hardy, who is challenging him for the Democratic nomination, with the homophobic slur.
In an hour-long Facebook Live stream from his office on Friday, Jacquet had said: “I’m running in 2020, baby. Reelection, 100 percent. I hear they got sleepy Hardy [running against me]. It’s all good. The union boy. The batty boy union boy.”
The term “batty boy” is a homophobic slur that originated in the Caribbean.
Democratic lawmaker condemned for ‘batty boy’ slur
Omari Hardy, who is straight but was raised by two mothers, responded: “My opponent for Florida House District 88 referred to me using a gay slur.
“While I’m not gay, I am offended for our LGBTQ community in Palm Beach County and across the state of Florida. His bigoted rhetoric has no place in our politics.”
The comments were also condemned by out Democratic legislators Shevrin Jones and Carlos Guillermo Smith.
Jones wrote: “There is no room for discrimination of any kind, and I know Rep. Jacquet to be better than the language he used.” Smith added: “Homophobia is toxic and dangerous. Words matter and legislators on both sides of the aisle should condemn this hateful rhetoric immediately.
Jacquet’s office attempted to draw a line under the matter by issuing a pre-written, one-line apology for his remarks on Tuesday.
The statement said: “In the heat of the moment, I said something I should not have said. I apologise for my words that have offended some of my colleagues.”
Hardy flatly rejected the apology, telling the Palm Beach Post: “The ‘apology’ he supposedly has issued wasn’t sent to me and he has my cell number.
“He hasn’t reached out to me at all. I don’t know to whom he was apologising. When you hurt someone you apologise to them [directly]. This was not genuine and sincere apology. This was [attempted] damage control, public relations control.’’
Politician claims critics are trying to ’round up the blacks’ after homophobic remarks
Jacquet has now taken to accusing those condemning him on social media of being racist.
In response to one critical tweet about his homophobic views, he wrote: “Rounding up the blacks, huh?”
He added: “What is your thing against blacks??”
Jacqet had also condemned efforts led by Smith to secure LGBT+ non-discrimination protections in underprivileged schools funded by Florida’s tax credit voucher scheme.
He tweeted on the issue: “Discrimination is only a concern to you when it’s Not against black youth. #BlackLivesMatter wnough with your all lives matter BS. Wrong month to attack blacks.”
The lawmaker continued: “When did being black/brown and/or low-income become the reason why people lose their rights as parents. Quit your pretext! I hear a racist dog whistle. PLease BLack off!”