Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has resigned as parliamentary secretary for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott after linking same-sex marriage with bestiality in a speech to federal Parliament on Tuesday evening.

Bernardi said same-sex marriage was “another tear in the fabric of our social mores” and that it could lead to accepting bestiality.

“The time has come to ask, when will it end? If we are prepared to redefine marriage … what is the next step?” Bernardi said.

“The next step… is having three people that love each other be able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society, or four people.

“There are even some creepy people out there, who say that it’s OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?”

In announcing that he had accepted Bernardi’s resignation this afternoon, Abbott said the comments were “ill-disciplined”.

“I had a conversation with Senator Bernardi… he offered his resignation and I have accepted his resignation,” Abbott told a press conference.

“We never want minority groups to feel like they are strangers in their own country.

“I am also determined that the Coalition will maintain our proud record of nondiscrimination.”

Federal senators began debate on the Marriage Amendment Bill (No.2) 2012 on Monday.

Nationals Senator Ron Boswell also came under fire for telling the Senate that once same-sex marriage was law it would force the normalisation of homosexual behaviour on the wider culture.

“I cannot imagine a more severe attack on the family than undermining marriage,” Boswell said.

“Two mothers or two fathers cannot raise a child properly. Who takes a boy to football? Who tells him what is right from wrong? What does he do – go along with the two mums? How does he go camping and fishing?… It is defying nature.”

The senator also said that if gay marriage was allowed, children would be forced to learn about it in schools.

“Once you legalise something, you cannot discriminate against it,” he said.

“Do you want your children to go into classrooms that give equal weight to heterosexuals and homosexuals?”

Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich told the Star Observer that comments like Boswell’s were nasty and predictable.

“We’re used to that kind of misinformation and alarmism from opponents of reform,” Greenwich said.

“We welcome the fact a majority of Australians reject that type of prejudice that he’s peddling.”

Labor Senator Doug Cameron also criticised the views as reminiscent of the 1950s.

“These dinosaur views about gays have no place in modern political discourse,” Cameron said.

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