THE national secretary of a powerful right-wing union and prominent campaigner against marriage equality has announced he will step down from his role after more than 30 years of influence within the Australian Labor Party.

Joe De Bruyn, a right-wing ALP factional leader with a reputation as gatekeeper for MPs, announced he would leave his position at the head of the Shod, Distributive and Allied Employees Association next October, and vacate positions within the ALP next year.

The union boss is well-known for his opposition to both marriage equality and abortion, defending Julia Gillard for her position against marriage equality while she was Prime Minister and criticising Kevin Rudd for his change of heart on the issue.

In addition, during the first party-wide ALP leadership ballot between Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten, De Bruyn said Albanese was “rabid” on same-sex marriage.

Rainbow Labor members have expressed hope about De Bruyn’s successor.

“Whilst Rainbow Labor has not always agreed with Mr De Bruyn’s positions, we wish him well in his future endeavours,” NSW Rainbow Labor co-convenor Donherra Walmsley said.

“We are hopeful (his) successor will be open to creating a more democratic and representative union movement and Labor Party, through canvassing the views of their members on issues such as LGBTI rights before lobbying for or against them.

“Rainbow Labor calls on the new national secretary to conduct a survey of SDA members to gauge their support for marriage equality.”

Meanwhile, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby welcomed the news.

“Joe de Bruyn has been on the wrong side of the equality debate for far too long, defending the indefensible. We hope this will help to usher in a new era in Australian political debate,” policy officer Jed Horner said.

 

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