THE new Premier of NSW has expressed his regret at previous comments he made to the media about homosexuality being a “lifestyle choice”.

During an interview with Fairfax Media in October 2012, Mike Baird said he couldn’t see how not passing marriage equality legislation in the NSW Parliament would be detrimental towards LGBTI rights.

“I don’t in any way see that as a degradation or a reduction in rights for those who are choosing to live a homosexual lifestyle,” the then-NSW Treasurer said.

“But for me, marriage [is] a man and a woman and I think that preserving that, and the legacy and history of that, is important.”

However, since his promotion to Premier  last week after the sudden resignation of Barry O’Farrell, Baird today said he misspoke when talking about marriage equality and the general LGBTI community in October 2012.

“I chose my words poorly when I referred to a lifestyle choice,” he said in statement to the Star Observer this afternoon.

“I was merely trying to say that everybody should be free to be who they are.”

The Premier then stated he was more open to issues surrounding diversity and societal engagement by minorities than what his previous remarks had suggested.

“I do not judge people on the basis of race, religion or sexuality,” he said in the statement.

“I judge them by how they behave and what they contribute to the community and those around them.”

The news comes as a photo emerged over the weekend of Baird shaking hands with NSW upper house MP Fred Nile at the Christian Democratic Party’s annual conference during the 2013 Federal Election.

According to a CDP newsletter that was issued at the time, the then-Treasurer was a keynote speaker at the event and he had shared his “Christian testimony and how God led him into the area of government and politics”.

The Star Observer had asked Baird’s office for comment on the CDP image, but this was not addressed in the statement sent today.

However, during an interview with Fairfax Media over the Easter long weekend, Baird said he had no intention of imposing his religious perspectives on government decision-making or politics in general. He also believed that as people got to know him, his faith wouldn’t become a political issue.

Baird has also previously acknowledged the pain his comments about marriage equality and the wider LGBTI community had caused in a statement in April last year: “While my conscience says marriage is for a man and a woman, I know many disagree and indeed the pain many feel on this issue.” 

 

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