His sister accused critics of the former PM Tony Abbott of ‘scoring cheap political points’ in a weekend tweet. Christine Forster castigated those who describe the new British trade advisor as a ‘homophobe and misogynist’ without knowing him. However, Forster neglected to address the many incidents and comments that inspired the accusations.
Abbott’s appointment proved controversial in both Australia and the UK. In the UK, where he was born, critics pointed to his track record of allegedly misogynistic and homophobic comments. His famed climate change denial also provoked detractors in a country where the issue is less divisive. Last year, the former PM described the world as ‘in the grip of a climate cult’.
Only last week, Abbott caused more controversy when he suggested allowing elderly COVID-19 patients to die. He made the comments during a speech in London in which he criticised ‘health dictatorships’.
“Every death is sad, but that has never stopped families sometimes electing to make elderly relatives as comfortable as possible while nature takes its course.”
Christine Forster, Abbott’s sister and a fellow Liberal politician defended her brother based on their familial relationship.
“It is nothing short of dishonesty for commentators and politicians who do not know Tony to label him a ‘homophobe and a misogynist’ for the purpose of scoring cheap political points.
“As a woman who has always been part of his life and who came out to him as gay in my early 40s, I know incontrovertibly that Tony is neither of those things.”
— Christine Forster (@resourcefultype) September 4, 2020
Forster previously worked for S&P Global Platts reporting on energy and commodity prices. Platts is one of the world’s leading oil price reporting agencies. After leaving Platts, she found employment as a media advisor at Woodside Energy.
In her early 40s, Forster left her husband for another woman, also married. She came out in a newspaper article in 2012, a few years later. In 2012, she was also elected to the City of Sydney Council as a Liberal, a position she retains.
Forster told the ABC her family’s conservativism prevented her from becoming a lesbian earlier.
“If I’d grown up in a bohemian environment, I probably would’ve come out at the age of 18 or 19, but I grew up in a family where your values were Menzies-era.
“You couldn’t consider being gay, that wasn’t part of our world.”
Abbott opposed rights for LGBTIQ people for his entire political career. In 1994, he not only voted against but also wrote an opinion piece arguing against the Keating Government’s overriding of Tasmania’s anti-gay laws. At the time, Tasmania imposed the harshest penalties for homosexuality in the Western world. It was also the last Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise homosexuality.
In 2010 when 60 Minutes asked the then Opposition Leader his views on homosexuality he said, “I probably feel a bit threatened, as so many people do… (but) it’s a fact of life.”
In 2015, faced as Prime Minister with growing momentum for a same-sex marriage vote in the Australian Parliament, Abbott did everything possible to stop the inevitable. First, he called a joint partyroom meeting with his coalition partners the Nationals to debate the holding of a conscience vote. By including the more conservative Nationals in the meeting, he was able to muster sufficient votes to defeat the idea. He then proposed a national vote on the issue after the following election. When he subsequently lost the Prime Ministership, conservative elements including Abbott held his successor Malcolm Turnbull to the idea of a national vote.
Abbott played a leading role in the NO campaign against same-sex marriage. Despite his own electorate voting 75% in favour, Abbott left the House of Representatives during the parliamentary vote to affirm the people’s decision to allow same-sex marriage.
On the subject of misogyny, Julia Gillard’s 2012 address on the subject became Australia’s most memorable political speeches.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.