A LABOR politician has rejected calls to step down following a controversial speech he made to a Christian group, including branding a fellow senator a “poster boy” for gay rights.

Joe Bullock made the comments about Western Australian Labor Senator Louise Pratt in a speech at the Dawson Society in November. He also accused Pratt of canvassing votes against him.

Bullock apologised for the remarks, saying he had “enormous respect” for Pratt, but only after his comments came to light earlier this month, four months after he gave the speech.

Trade union United Voice said the remarks by Bullock were “appalling” and they now regretted supporting him at the recent WA senate election.

“In light of his recent comments we no longer believe he is fit to represent the ALP in the Australian Senate,” United Voice WA secretary Carolyn Smith said on Thursday.

“If we had had the information we have now, if we’d known the sort of comments he’d made about Louise Pratt, we would not have supported him,” said Smith.

Conservative union leader Bullock knocked gay rights advocate Pratt from the top position on WA Labor’s federal senate ticket as part of a deal that included the backing of United Voice.

Senator Pratt is a long time LGBTI rights advocate and is a relationship with trans* man Aram Hosie.

However, Labor’s result in the election means only Bullock’s place in the Senate is assured, with Pratt battling it out with the Liberals for the sixth and last seat.

On Friday, Bullock said he had no intention of resigning: “I have been and will continue to be a good representative for the working people of WA, it’s my intention to continue doing that in another venue.”

He added that he hoped “Louise gets over the line” when preferences were counted and allocated.

It has been reported that Pratt is out-polling Bullock in the below the line vote count in the WA Senate election. Although this will not affect the final outcome of Bullock winning the seat, Pratt leads 1285 votes to 1039.

Bullock’s views on homosexuality have previously courted controversy. At the 2011 WA ALP State Conference, Bullock told delegates: “Marriage is special because it provides a stable, balanced environment for children raising. Homosexual relationships are naturally and necessarily infertile; it’s not marriage.”

Bullock heads up the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association in WA, a union that has been critical of same-sex marriage with outgoing national secretary, Joe De Bruyn, criticising Kevin Rudd for his change of heart on the issue.

 

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