An anti-gay marriage politician who insisted he is not a homophobe was left red-faced – when presented with evidence live on air.
Eric Abetz, an influential right-wing member of Australia’s governing Liberal Party and the former Leader of the Government in the Senate, is one of the party’s most outspoken opponents of equal marriage.
During his appearance on debate show Q&A last night, Mr Abetz tried to claim that his views on gay marriage don’t make him a homophobe.
He hit out at “commentary that is directed at myself, that I’m a homophobe, that I’m a bigot, that I engage in hate speech, because I happen to believe that marriage is not about the adults as it is about the socialisation of the next generation.”
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari was clearly anticipating that Abetz would try and deny his homophobic views – because he came armed with evidence.
The pro-LGBT politician said: “Eric, you can’t sit here and tell us about that we need to have more reasonable debate and the tone of the debate when you look at your own history of comments when it comes to this matter.
“Your own history of what you’ve said in these debates, going all the way back to when you were first elected in 1994.
“Eric, you argued against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Tasmania under the guise of some kind of states rights matters all the way back in 1994 and you have pursued an objection to LBGTI rights throughout.
“Some of the most hurtful comments that have been said in this debate over 20 years, over 20 years have come from you.”
[email protected] says it’s going to get ugly & @SenatorAbetz‘s history of comments are some of the most hurtful comments in this debate #QandA pic.twitter.com/B26lZ7Bgjd
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) August 14, 2017
When Abetz attempted to deny making the comments, Senator Dastyari produced the actual press release sent out by Abetz opposing the decriminalisation of gay sex.
The document, duly re-published online by Senator Dastyari, says: “Federalism perverted to allow sodomy and incest.” It warns that the then-Labor government’s plan would “presumably allow sodomy and incest just as long as it is done in the privacy of the bedroom.”
In the document, Abetz claimed that plans to decriminalise gay sex were “an affront to Australian democracy” because some states had passed devolved anti-gay laws.
#qanda @SenatorAbetz ‘s press release from Aug 1994 re homosexuality decriminalisation in TAS. Judge yourself. pic.twitter.com/AKJ9z5kTcn
— Sam Dastyari (@samdastyari) August 14, 2017
Presented with the document, the clearly-flustered Abetz said: “The federal parliament was seeking to override the state government… that was what I was objecting to very strongly. I think you know that sort of slur is completely wrong.”
Abetz then proceeded to suggest that Senator Dastyari “would know” that he is not a homophobe, suggesting that he had introduced him to a gay acquaintance.
Despite the feeble excuses, reality shows that Abetz has been a long and aggressive opponent of LGBT rights, whether he wants to admit it or not.
Abetz has repeatedly insisted homosexuality can be ‘cured’, saying that people who are ‘cured’ should be celebrated as public role models.
The politician also previously suggested that even if the public votes for equal marriage in a referendum or plebiscite, he would try to block it in Parliament.
He added: “There will be people in the parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.”
Abetz also has ties to a group that supports ‘gay cure’ therapy, has also claimed gay weddings would harm relations with Asia, and played a key role in censoring an LGBT anti-bullying programme in schools.
His brother Peter Abetz is also a politician, and has compared same-sex parenting to stealing children from Aborigines.