A member of parliament has used a rather unfortunate analogy to put his case against marriage equality – and advocates say it proves why a plebiscite on the subject is such a bad idea. Max Chalmers reports.
It’s happening again.
A federal Nationals MP has drawn a comparison between same-sex relationships and two rams having sex in a paddock, provoking condemnation for the ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate’ statements, with the Greens calling on him to apologise and retract them.
Andrew Broad, who represents the Victorian electorate of Mallee, made the comments to regional newspaper Sunraysia Daily.
“Do I support calling a relationship between a man and a man, and a woman and a woman marriage? No I don’t,” Broad is quotes as saying in the article, a partial version of which is available online.
“I think a bicycle is not a tricycle and relationships have different names.
“I can put the rams in the paddock and they might mount one another but no lambs will come out.”
The comments were made by Broad while defending the government’s plan to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, seen by marriage equality advocates as a delaying tactic and a waste of time and money.
Speaking to New Matilda this morning, Greens Senator and LGBTI/Marriage Equality spokesperson Robert Simms said the comments would be hurtful for young LGBTI people to hear, and that the sentiments behind them were “reprehensible”. He said the comments themselves showed one of the problems with holding a plebiscite on marriage equality, which could unleash the “mother of all fear campaigns” against LGBTI people.
Rodney Croome, Australian Marriage Equality national director, said allowing same-sex couples to marry was about recognising “the equal dignity, value and commitment in these relationships.”
“It’s also about providing equal protection for the children of same-sex couples, which is something Mr Broad seems to have overlooked,” Croome said.
“I invite Mr Broad to meet some of the same-sex couples and their family members who live in his electorate so he can see their love is just like everyone else’s.”
“As for a plebiscite, how can Mr Broad possibly justify spending $160 million on what is basically an elaborate opinion poll when his electorate is crying out for better services and infrastructure.”
A recent poll taken in heartland Nationals seats revealed voters were opposed to a marriage equality plebiscite.
Sally Rugg, a campaigns director at GetUp!, described Broad’s comments as a “complete embarrassment”.
“Not only does it show how out of touch he is with the Australian public in the 21st century – ReachTel polling from last week shows he’s completely out of touch with Nationals voters, two thirds of whom reject the idea of a plebiscite.”
In a statement presented to the ABC’s AM program this morning, Broad took aim at the Sunraysia Daily, though didn’t explicitly deny making the comments.
“The article was not an entirely accurate reflection of discussions,” the statement said.
“The Government will hold a plebiscite on changes to the marriage act, and every Australian over the age of 18 will be given an opportunity to decide the outcome in line with their personal views.”
Sunraysia Daily editor David Alexander said he stood by the story, which was published in print on February 6.
According to the Sunraysia Daily Broad also opposed a ‘rainbow sticker’ campaign, which encouraged local business to put the stickers in their windows to help the local LGBTI community feel accepted.
“You are safe to have a coffee in any coffee shop in Mildura. It shouldn’t matter whether or not a coffee shop window has a rainbow sticker,” he said.
“They shouldn’t feel compelled to have a sticker in the window.”
In 2012 Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi was forced to resign as Tony Abbott’s parliamentary secretary after suggesting marriage equality could lead to bestiality.
“There seems to be a bit of a habit on the conservative side of politics for bringing these kind of absurd and base comments into the debate. They’re really clutching at straws,” Simms said.
Simms said the comments would be a test for new Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce, and would help reveal what kind of an agenda the party would pursue under his leadership.
Andrew Broad has been contacted for comment.
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