Beyondblue chair Jeff Kennett says he has been “taken out of context” over his remarks on same-sex parenting.
In an interview aired on JOY94.9 today, Kennett said his Herald Sun opinion piece was “trying to look at the challenges facing young people”.
“I would like to think … that in many senses what I said has been taken out of context and misunderstood,” he said.
“In that article, from memory, I talked about the most important thing being a loving relationship, a loving environment, there is no substitute for that.
“If you don’t have a loving environment, the child witnesses what goes on.”
Speaking with JOY president David McCarthy, Kennett said he didn’t care what form a loving relationship took.
“A loving relationship, be it between a male and a female, be it between two men, two women, be it a single parent, a loving relationship is by far the best.”
Regarding the controversy surrounding his remarks, Kennett said he didn’t set out to discriminate, but that his personal preference is still for opposite sex parents.
“I made the comment that my preference … which would be, in my opinion, the preferred, and that’s the environment that I have grown up in, [with] which I‘m familiar, that’s been my mother and father.
“I didn’t set out to [discriminate] and I’m sorry to upset people, but on the other hand that is my opinion. But that doesn’t override the issue that it is a loving environment that is the most important.”
Kennett has signed up as a member of the station on the proviso the station agrees to work collaboratively with beyondblue on the development of a campaign to target the gay and lesbian community to address depression.
Listener feedback to the interview appeared to be overwhelmingly negative.
Show host Dean Beck read out a response from one listener who did not want to be part of an organisation that had Kennett as a member.
Following the interview, McCarthy refuted feedback that he had “gone soft” in the interview.
“It’s pretty easy to say that. I don’t believe we went soft on him. We asked him some pretty tough questions,” he said.
“I think he made it pretty clear that what he feels in his heart is it doesn’t mater the sex, gender — it’s the love and care you give to kids.
“I feel comfortable with the questions we asked and the responses he gave.”
McCarthy rejected claims the interview was a PR stunt or that the station was looking to cash in on the incident.
“It’s easy to criticise. Okay, you’re entitled to do that, but we’re going down a course of action we believe will deliver longstanding outcomes for our community.
“We are not doing this in any way to generate extra funding for JOY.”
The Kennett interview will be replayed on JOY’s Saturday Magazine, October 8, 9.30am.