Australian Christian Lobby head Lyle Shelton has quit the organisation to pursue a career in politics at the next federal election.
Shelton (pictured), one of the most high-profile “no” campaigners in last year’s marriage postal survey, announced on Saturday he was stepping down after five years as the ACL’s managing director to contest a seat in his home state of Queensland.
He didn’t name the party he plans to represent but the ABC is reporting he will announce on Sunday he will join Cory Bernadi’s Australian Conservatives.
“Last year during the marriage campaign, I felt very much drawn to the political side of things for the partisan side of politics,” Shelton said in a message on social media.
“With that in mind, I’ve decided to make a big step to move back to my home state of Queensland.
“I do believe that politics needs Christian influence from the inside and political parties need good people from the inside.
“I’m not leaving the battle for the values that you and I hold dear, just simply going to a different part of the battlefield.”
Shelton’s former chief of staff Martyn Iles will take over as managing director of the ACL, the organisation announced on Saturday.
During the postal survey, Shelton campaigned alongside Bernardi as part of the Coalition For Marriage, the peak lobby group arguing against marriage equality.
After the “yes” vote Shelton vowed to keep fighting “for decades” to repeal marriage equality.
Shelton drew criticism last year when he told BuzzFeed parents should have the option to send their children to so-called “gay conversion” therapy, a practice condemned as harmful by peak counselling and psychotherapy bodies in several countries around the world.
“I think anyone who wants to seek help for any issue they might be facing in their life should be free to do that,” Shelton said.
“Should people be forced to go to conversion therapy? No, absolutely not.
“Now, children — they are under the care and responsibility of their parents, so I think if someone’s a minor, it is up to their parents.
“And I think parental rights should be respected.”
Last year Shelton was forced to defend a 2016 Australian Christian Lobby blog post he wrote, denying he had drawn a comparison between the “unthinkable” progress of LGBTIQ rights and the atrocities of the Nazi regime in Germany.
“Changing the definition of marriage to entrench motherless and fatherlessness in public policy and teaching our kids their gender is fluid should be opposed,” he wrote.
“The cowardice and weakness of Australia’s ‘gatekeepers’ is causing unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s.”
He told Channel Ten’s The Project last year he was only making a parallel “between speaking up or not speaking up when bad ideas are put forward in public policy.”