Darryn Lyons
Geelong's Mayor Darryn Lyons twitter.com/DarrynLyons

The protests against Darryn Lyons for wearing a t-shirt featuring a naked Madonna have reached Canberra, with the mayor condemning the public reaction as a personal attack by his political opponents. The Geelong mayor had worn the controversial t-shirt on Saturday at Geelong’s Oktober Fest inauguration.

“This is not about sexism this is about, you know, a personal attack,” he told Channel 7 on Monday. “People want to use this as an excuse to bring down the mayor of Geelong.”

Lyons’ reactions to the outcry came after Corio MP Richard Marles spoke up before the federal parliament regarding the inappropriateness of the t-shirt. He also labelled him a "senior Liberal," and called for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to censure him.

The t-shirt, central to the controversy, featured an image of U.S. singer Madonna, who is naked and appears to be hitchhiking beside a slogan that reads “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free.”

The Speak Out Against Sexism protest at Geelong’s city hall had at least 30 speakers who condemned Lyons’ decision to wear a t-shirt bearing image of a naked woman and an offensive slogan at a public event.

“Institutional sexism is made acceptable through TV shows, products and imagery, such as the T-shirt Darryn Lyons wore,” Trades Hall President Jacki Kriz was quoted by the Geelong Advertiser as saying. “He must be living under a rock if he doesn’t understand the connection between the objectification and commodification of women and domestic violence. It’s not about a t-shirt it’s about influencing young men and women.”

But Lyons said that he would not allow such rallies to distract him from his role and lashed out at his fellow councillors.

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to work, City Hall, to get some more stuff done,” he said. “A few more councillors should put in a bit more work and stop whingeing and moaning shouldn’t they really.”

His tone was more apologetic on his Twitter account, with a post denying he meant offence by wearing the controversial shirt.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Turnbull declined to condemn the t-shirt, saying Turnbull's stance on domestic violence is clear.

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