A federal Liberal candidate in Victoria has apologised for linking same-sex marriage with child sex abuse during the marriage equality debate in 2017.
Gurpal Singh, a lawyer and lecturer who is the Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of Scullin, is described by the party as “a strong voice in the community for religious freedom”.
But in 2017 Singh described same-sex marriage as “unnatural” and linked it to paedophilia while campaigning for the “no” vote during the same-sex marriage postal survey that year.
“Here we are doing something that is against nature,” he told SBS Radio in October 2017, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“How do you perceive that situation and what is the overall impact? I think there is also an issue of paedophilia.”
The candidate also criticised the Coalition government in the 2017 interview as “quite weak” for holding a postal vote on the issue, rather than resolving it through a vote in parliament.
Singh told the publication on Friday that he apologised for the comments and withdrew them.
“I apologise unreservedly for those comments. They were wrong and I am sorry,” Singh said.
Anna Brown, chief executive of Equality Australia and longtime marriage equality campaigner, told the Sydney Morning Herald she was concerned that a re-elected Morrison government could negatively impact the LGBTIQ community.
“Sadly, this isn’t the first time a Liberal candidate has expressed offensive and derogatory views about LGBTIQ people,” Ms Brown said.
“Given that the Prime Minister himself proposed hostile amendments to the marriage equality bill, abstained from the vote after inflicting a national plebiscite on the LGBTIQ community and has used social media to attack the needs of trans people, we are concerned that a future Morrison government will see equality wound back for LGBTIQ people in the name of religious freedom.”
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended Liberal candidate Gladys Liu after it emerged she said in 2016 that Chinese-Australians believe same-sex marriage “is against normal practice” and they don’t want the “next generation destroyed … by these sort of concepts of same-sex, transgender, intergender, crossgender and all this rubbish.”
Pauline Hanson has also appeared to stand by One Nation candidate Stuart Bonds who declared in a YouTube video that “the only thing worse” than a gay man with power is a woman with power.
Last week, Equality Australia released the responses they’d received to a survey given to the Coalition, Labor and the Greens quizzing the parties on their positions more than a dozen LGBTIQ issues ahead of the election.
The federal election will be held on May 18.
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