An Australian comedian got the better of the country’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a live TV interview – with a jibe about equal marriage.
Gay comic Rhys Nicholson was interviewed on Channel Ten show The Project, at the same time as the Australian PM happened to be a guest on the panel.
The PM had asked Nicholson about his distinctive red hair, branding him a “ginger ninja”.
Asked if redheads were making it into the mainstream, Mr Nicholson quipped: “If someone had told me today that at some point I’d be talking on national television to the Prime Minister about ginger sperm, yeah, I’d say things have changed.”
But the comic couldn’t resist making another point to the Prime Minister during the live interview.
He said: “I’m all about the nicknames. I think it’s all about ownership, those are our words and we can take them back. The main thing is you don’t want anyone to be treated differently for something they can’t change, like, for example… marriage rights, or something. I don’t know what I could possibly mean by that, but erm…”
The comic was cut off by the hosts, who concluded the segment, as host Carrie Bickmore decided to help Mr Turnbull avoid responding to the jibe.
She said: “I’m going to save you from that just by saying a big thank you for supporting our beanies for brain cancer campaign the other day.”
The country’s right-wing Prime Minister has repeatedly blocked a free vote in Parliament on equal marriage, despite overwhelming public support.
Turnbull allegedly gave private assurances to anti-LGBT conservatives within his own party that he would not budge on the issue during his leadership bid, in order to shore up support.
However, the leader is facing a challenge to his authority from rebels within his party who support equal marriage.
Senator Dean Smith, an openly gay member of Turnbull’s Liberal Party, is bringing forward a private member’s bill on the issue, in a clear challenge to Turnbull and the party leadership.
Equal marriage would likely become law if Senator Smith’s bill is allowed to go ahead and Liberals are allowed a conscience vote on the issue.
But Turnbull insists the issue needs to be put to the public in a non-binding plebiscite – a plan that was rejected by the Parliament last year.