Qantas Airways Ltd Chief Executive Alan Joyce reacts during a media conference in Sydney August 28, 2014.
Qantas Airways Ltd Chief Executive Alan Joyce reacts during a media conference in Sydney August 28, 2014. Reuters/David Gray/File photo

The man who attacked Alan Joyce said he just wanted to make a statement against same-sex marriage. Tony Overheu shoved a lemon meringue pie into Joyce’s face on Tuesday while the Qantas chief was speaking on stage.

Joyce, who is openly gay, was addressing the audience at the West Business Leadership Matters at the Hyatt Regency in Perth when a man walked up to him and shoved a pie in his face. The man walked off the stage just as casually as he entered it.

It was later learnt that the pie-shover’s name is Tony Overheu, who was detained by security staff until the police arrived to arrest him. Joyce told reporters on Wednesday that Overheu sent him an email to apologise, but Overheu did not appear to be regretful of what he did.

The police have charged Overheu, 67, with providing false details. Joyce said he would be pressing charges himself as well.

“The police are continuing their investigation and my intention is to send a message that this type of behaviour isn’t acceptable and that I will have every intention of pressing charges,” Joyce said. “…I’m a big believer in the great Australian expression a fair government is all about giving people equality.”

As for why Overheu attacked Joyce, the devout Christian, who is a member of the Church of Christ and Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, said that he rejects “corporate bullying aimed at social engineering.” He claimed Qantas is insulting staff and passengers with their boarding pass propaganda, and that Joyce should “run airlines, not bulldoze Australia socially against its will.”

Overheu said he was even being considerate in choosing a lemon meringue pie to because it was soft enough not to injure the airline boss. He told 6PR radio that influential companies like Joyce’s Qantas have been lobbying the government for same-sex marriage, which Overheu is dead set against, and he wouldn’t let that pass.

“I’ve never done that sort of thing. I’m a law-abiding person, but I think this is part of inevitable pushback,” he said. He also revealed that his family weren’t happy about what he did. “It was a very serious action to take and if it was going to be an effective statement, then it needed to be done in a manner that hit target, in a sense, without causing any injury.”

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Joyce was shoved with a pie in the face while speaking on stage. (Read more: Qantas chief Alan Joyce shoved with meringue pie in face)