A 78er based in Wagga Wagga has invited new deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to march with him in this weekend’s Mardi Gras parade.
Ray Goodlass, one of the protesters who marched in the first Mardi Gras protest in Sydney in 1978, said he was concerned about comments McCormack made in 1993 in which he called gay people “sordid” and “unnatural” and blamed them for the AIDS crisis.
McCormack has since apologised for the remarks, which he wrote in an opinion piece for a Wagga Wagga newspaper in 1993. The comments surfaced again earlier this week after he replaced Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals party.
“As a gay man living in McCormack’s home town, I experienced homophobia and McCormack’s apology did not undo the damage caused by his 1993 editorial,” Goodlass said.
“Last year I questioned the ethics of McCormack being given the job as Minister responsible for managing the marriage equality plebiscite.
“I have issued a genuine challenge to McCormack to prove his change of heart by marching in this year’s Mardi Gras.
“I am ready to accompany McCormack in the parade up Oxford Street.”
During last year’s same-sex marriage debate, McCormack again apologised for the past comments.
“I have grown and learnt not only to tolerate but to accept all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique,” he said.
NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon backed Goodlass’ invitation to McCormack, having known the 78er for years as a member of a local Greens group.
“I have known Ray for a long time, and can assure Mr McCormack that this is a genuine offer from Ray that would enable the new deputy PM to show that he truly has left his bigoted views of the LGBTI community in the past,” she said.
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will be held this Saturday night.