Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has said he wants to see more “balanced” media reporting on people in “gay relationships who have then gone into straight relationships,” but denies he suggested being gay is a choice.
On Tuesday Sky News host Samantha Maiden asked: “So do you personally believe that gays and lesbians can pull up their bootstraps and show a bit of discipline and become heterosexuals? Do you actually think they can stop being who they are?”
Abetz responded: “The reality is, and evidence has been given to the Senate Committees, people who have been in gay relationships have then gone into heterosexual relationships and I believe that can happen, courtesy of the evidence.”
Maiden added: “I’m asking you if you think gay people should try not to be gay?”
Abetz answered: “Look, it is up to the individual as to what they want to be and how they want to express themselves. That is up to them in a free society.”
The senator also suggested media coverage of marriage equality was unbalanced.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a bit of balance in the reporting by Australia’s journalists of the actual evidence, the real evidence, that is given to some of these Senate committees,” he said.
“I think we all know people that have been in, if I can call it that, a straight relationship that have gone into a gay relationship, and people then doing the opposite.
“The fact that both occur within our society is established fact and why we can’t report on the two-way traffic is something that has bemused me somewhat and I think it’s indicative of certain bias in the media that they only want one side of the equation spoken about.”
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 4, 2017
Dozens of people responded to Mr Abetz on social media, pointing out that he had seemingly stumbled upon the concept of bisexuality.
It seems Eric Abetz has just discovered bisexuality exists pic.twitter.com/ucK0lTodgD
— Colley (@JamColley) April 4, 2017
In breaking news, Eric Abetz announces he is on the brink of understanding that the 'B' isn't just there to make LGBTIQ easier to pronounce.
— Nick Earls (@nickearls) April 4, 2017
When👏a 👏bisexual 👏dates 👏someone👏of 👏the 👏opposite👏sex👏they👏are 👏still👏 in👏a👏bisexual👏relationship. https://t.co/DPBaSv63Wg
— Eliza Berlage (@verbaliza) April 4, 2017
In a statement, Mr Abetz denied he’d suggested being gay was a choice and said widespread media reports suggesting as such were “fake news” and “completely dishonest”.
“Just as people who were at one point straight can become homosexual, there are many instances of people who were homosexual who determine that they are no longer gay. Indeed, it is also universally accepted that a larger number of people ‘experiment’ with homosexuality than ultimately identify in that way,” he said.
“In this age of ‘celebrating diversity and acceptance’, I would hope that these unremarkable statements would be accepted in the same goodwill as most Australians accept that people are free to determine their own sexual identity.”
In the Sky News interview on Tuesday, Abetz also blasted companies’ support for marriage equality, after this week’s launch of Airbnb’s “Until We All Belong” campaign calling for marriage equality.
“It is the right of these companies to engage in these activities should they wish to do so,” he said.
“But along with free speech comes the right to be critical of CEOs running politically correct campaigns, in effect with shareholders’ money, in circumstances which it means the cost of their product must be that much more expensive to the consumer of Australia because these campaigns don’t come for free.
“Ultimately the Australian consumer pays in circumstances where, as you would know and your viewers would know, I personally believe that any change to the definition of marriage would not be for the benefit of the children of our nation.”
Senator Abetz recently spoke out against the displaying of rainbow flags in federal government departments.