Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise tonight to talk about a matter that will be of importance to all Australians who value equality and diversity. I refer to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to speak at an event hosted by the gay hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom in the United States last week.
Mr Acting Deputy President, this was a brazen slap in the face to LGBTI Australians and their loved ones.
Mr Abbott might hold conservative views, but he is no ordinary politician. He is a former Prime Minister of this country. Having held that important office, he is considered an ambassador for our country. With that in mind, he should think very carefully about the causes with which he associates. And let's make no mistake, the Alliance Defending Freedom is no ordinary religious group. It advocates for the criminalisation of homosexuality and the abolition of anti-discrimination laws that protect the rights of LGBTI people. It is a lunatic fringe organisation that promotes an agenda that ruins people's lives. That's a fact - the agenda of this organisation is life-destroying. That's the consequence of criminalising homosexuality and we've seen it the world over.
In this place last year, I spoke about the homophobia of the Australian Christian Lobby. An organisation that uses the Christian name to peddle lies, misinformation and hate-speech. Well, the Alliance Defending Freedom is the ACL on steroids when it comes to peddling hate towards the LGBTI community. It's the ACL on steroids when it comes to demonising innocent people.
Despite proclaiming to defend Freedom the focus of this organisation is anything but. It's actually about restricting the rights and freedoms of LGBTI people.
The Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to strong arm the judiciary in the US so that it can restrict the human rights of women and LGBTI people. According to the Conversation, "it has more than 40 lawyers on staff and has trained more than 1300 law students and 1700 practising lawyers."
In 2003, it fought unsuccessfully for the rights of states in the US to criminalise gay sex and of course it continues to campaign, unsuccessfully in the US against marriage equality.
The reach of this organisation extends beyond the United States. There have also been reports that they have provided advice to supporters of Russia's anti-LGBTI legislation. Anti-gay legislation in Russia that has the most appalling human consequences. In Belize, for instance, I understand that the Alliance Defending Freedom provided lawyers to advise an anti-gay coalition to help retain its anti-homosexuality laws. In Belize they have law known as section 53, that imposes a 10-year sentence for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".
This Mr Acting deputy President, this is an organisation that has some sinister links. This is an organisation that a former Prime Minister of this country thought it was appropriate to associate himself with. What an outrage and what a slap in the face to LGBTI Australians. Quite frankly, it's deplorable and what an embarrassment to our nation.
By sharing the rostrum with these bigots and homophobes, Mr Abbott is legitimising their hateful agenda. Legitimising hate speech that ruins people's lives.
The former Prime Minister is fond of lecturing Australians on mainstream values. He may well reflect on how many would share the views of the Alliance Defending Freedom. How many Australians would support the criminalisation of gay sex. My home state of South Australia abolished that 40 years ago last year, but that's the kind of world this organisation wants to take us back to. With all the heartache and human misery that comes with that. To see a former Prime Minister indulging such an organisation is surely an affront to all Australians who value equality and diversity.
Mr Acting Deputy President, when it comes to combatting homophobia, racism and sexism we in public life have a responsibility to stand up and speak out. We have a responsibility to lead by example. We have a responsibility to model appropriate behaviour. It's by doing so that we can help change the culture in our nation.
This is the test of leadership that Mr Abbott has failed time and time again. After all, as Opposition Leader he thought it was appropriate to stand in front of a placard describing former Prime Minister of this country Julia Gillard in the most sexist and degrading terms. And now he's at it again, associating himself with the lunatic fringe. What's next, what's planned for his next US visit, a press conference with Donald Trump perhaps? They certainly seem to be promoting the same brand of ugly divisive politics.
In the speech Mr Abbott gave to this hate group, he said that it's time for common sense to prevail. "We need less ideology and more common sense." Well if only he'd follow his own advice. This is a man who has made a political career out of imposing his radical ideology on Australia. Let's face it, this is a politician who is so conservative he makes John Howard look like Karl Marx. It's time for him to put his ideology aside and stop fanning the flames of division in our country.
And let me say, on the topic of common sense, it's time for Malcolm Turnbull to show some on this issue. He needs to call Tony Abbott out for his bigotry. Apparently, the ex-Prime Minister can just speak to whoever he wants and say whatever he wants. Mr Turnbull just shrugs his shoulders and says its' Mr Abbott's right as an MP? Well what about the rights of the LGBTI community? What about the impact this has on our national reputation? And what does this say about the government of our country when you have one of its key figures behaving in this manner.
Mr acting deputy President, the Greens will always call out homophobia when we see it. It's time for the leadership of this country to speak out and do the same!
Media contact: Amy Moran 0417 173 508