THE Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) national director Lyle Shelton claims he’s not homophobic because he has gay friends and is not scared of LGBTI people.

Shelton spoke to Star Observer at the ACL’s biennial national conference in Sydney over the weekend which, featured guest speakers including Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, controversial international speakers Jeffery Ventrella and Eric Metaxas. The Daily Telegraph‘s columnist Miranda Devine also spoke at a dinner for attendees the night before.

 “We’re very happy and I realise our friends at the Star Observer would have a different outlook on things and that’s fine, but I hope there can be tolerance for different points of view without either side demonising the other,” he said.

“We think people should be able to hold a different view on marriage and to talk about it and to advocate for it without being called bigots or homophobes or haters and personally.”

Shelton said he’s not homophobic as he’s not scared of gay people and has no issue with them apart from their ambition of changing the definition of marriage.

“I don’t hate anyone, I don’t hate gay people – I love people. I don’t think it’s homophobic to not support changing the definition of marriage. What does homophobic mean – that I’m scared of gay people, that I’m worried someone’s going to get me? It’s a slur, it’s not an argument,” he said.

“So I don’t fear anyone. I’m not afraid of gay people, I’ve worked in politics and different places in society. I’ve had gay people as my colleagues, my friends. So I don’t hate them, I collaborate with them, especially in politics, there was a lot of gay people. so I’ve got no issue there, no phobia.”

Shelton went on to say Australian should think about what it means to change the definition of the family, what implications that has for family and whether it creates a public policy that requires children to miss out on having a mum and dad.

He also said he was happy with how the conference was going.

“It’s a real honour to have had the treasurer Scott Morrison here and we appreciate his application of a social conscience to the framing of the budget, I think that’s a good thing,” Shelton said.

“I’ve enjoyed it all, I don’t want to single anyone out. It’s always good seeing young people that are excited about making a difference in public policy, so some of the presentations were good – that’s tremendously exciting to see their courage and conviction.”

A couple of other young people who made their way into Sydney’s CBD to get near the conference were high school students Emma Wydmuch, 14, and Marinella Rose, 15, who had travelled from the Blue Mountains to join protestors outside the conference.

“I came here, because as a lesbian, I feel that I need proper representation and need equal rights and I don’t deserve to be hated,” Wydmuch said.

Rose said she used to be a Christian but her religious beliefs never affected her opinions of others especially LBGTI people.

“The ACL is giving Christian people a bad name. Some Christian have a moral compass… and support people to be themselves,” she told Star Observer.

“Safe Schools is important. I don’t want to walk around my schools and not feel like I can be myself and I don’t want my school to feel dangerous.”

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