Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said people were “very mean” to Cher after she took a controversial photo with him at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras earlier this month.
The singer, who headlined the Mardi Gras afterparty, subsequently apologised to fans after some criticised her for posing for the snap.
Turnbull told radio station Hit 105 on Wednesday the criticism Cher received for the photo was “brutal and pretty nasty”.
“I think she was a bit baffled by some of the criticism. It was very mean to her, I thought,” he said.
“I mean, Cher was so impressed by the big ‘yes’ vote on same-sex marriage and she congratulated me on it.
“We talked about it. We talked about the high participation rate. She thought it was a great win, a great victory and a great statement… the goodwill, the affection, the love in Australia.
“I think some of that social media commentary perhaps she had on Twitter is brutal and pretty nasty.”
Cher headlined the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras afterparty, but she made an appearance on the parade route where she took the controversial selfie with Turnbull that he posted on Twitter.
“Welcome to Sydney, Cher! Lucy and I and all your fans are thrilled to be with you at the 40th Mardi Gras and first since Australia achieved marriage equality,” he wrote.
The singer received a number of messages from fans on Twitter who put the blame on the Prime Minister for the abuse the LGBTIQ community endured during the same-sex marriage postal survey last year.
“Don’t believe him Cher. He cleared the way for horrible people to denigrate, slander and inflict slurs and violence on our LGBTI community through a wasteful plebicite, when all he had to do was make the change,” one person wrote.
“He ensured LGBTIQ people were taunted and abused for months last year,” another wrote.
Cher eventually responded, tweeting, “Am so sorry. Guess that’s why I have FEW Friends Who Are Politicians.He Seemed Very Open & excited about MARDI GRAS,AND LGBT COMMUNITY.”
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) March 3, 2018