Liberal councillor and high-profile sister of Tony Abbott, Christine Forster appeared on ABC’s Q&A last night, where marriage equality was among the topics discussed.
An audience member asked, “My male partner and I have been living together for 27 years. We don’t live in this mythical thing called a gay community—we live in a community like everyone else. We are the go-to people in the rest of our family, friends and usually the rest of the neighbourhood as well.
“Christine, how do you cope with a family member who not only is likely to be voting ‘no’, but actively campaigns against your lifestyle?”
Forster replied, “I think he’s guaranteed to vote ‘no’, and he quite freely admits that.
“We are family, we’re siblings, and I don’t know a family that agrees on everything all the time.
“He and I have agreed to disagree on this, and we respect each other’s opinions and get on with our respective campaigns.”
Host Tony Jones asked, “Do you find it hurtful?”
“No,” replied Forster.
“We’re siblings, and family relationships I think transcend politics. I disagree with my parents about loads of things. I disagree with my sisters just as I disagree with my brothers. I don’t think that’s unusual in your average Australian family.
“But we’re in a discussion now, hopefully a respectful conversation, and the one thing that I think Tony and I do reflect is that degree of respect for each other.
“At the end of the day, we’ll still be family, we’ll still love each other.”
Forster went on to discuss the importance of the upcoming postal vote on marriage equality.
“This is a really, really important thing for many people within the community right now,” she said.
“It’s a really important thing for the next generation of Australians, many of whom are young men and women who are coming to terms with their sexuality, their futures.
“‘Will I have the same opportunity to enjoy the same lifestyle, the same status relationship as every other Australian?’, that’s the question we need to be thinking about right now, not about whether the Abbott family’s having a fight.”
Forster said marriage equality would be “a seminal moment in our national history which will be defining for all of us”.
“It will be the point in time where we say that we recognise that every single Australian is equal before the law and should be recognised as such,” she said.