The NSW Liberal Party has tried to distance itself from homophobic comments allegedly made by party members last week at a Bankstown branch meeting that turned into a punch-up.

Police were called in to diffuse the brawl which reportedly began when the left and right factions of the party started shouting abuse at each other. Right-wing members allegedly said the left were pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion, and called them poofter lovers.

Anti-Muslim comments are also said to have been made.

The Liberal Party’s state director Scott Morrison would not comment specifically on the alleged verbal abuse until an internal investigation established what actually was said. However he told Sydney Star Observer he was disgusted by the whole incident.

This sort of behaviour has no place in the Liberal Party. We are a very diverse party which accommodates a broad spectrum of opinion and beliefs and that’s one of our party’s strengths, Morrison said.

We are appalled and are taking the appropriate action to make sure these sort of things are never repeated. He added he had never seen anything of that nature in my entire time here as state director.

NSW Opposition Leader John Brogden said anyone involved in thuggish or violent-style behaviour will be expelled from the party.

Alex Day, of gay and lesbian group CBD (Canterbury Bankstown District), said he wasn’t surprised by the alleged homophobic comments. The Liberals have never been supportive of anything gay in the Bankstown area, Day said.

In the last four and a half years we’ve contacted every candidate from every party in federal, state and local elections, and the only party we’ve never heard back from is the Liberal Party. We even heard back from the Christian Democrats.

Labor Mayor of Bankstown Helen Westwood, a long-time supporter of the gay and lesbian community, said she was greatly concerned about extremist views being expressed by someone who is aspiring to political leadership.

I would hope anyone who aspires to represent this diverse community at any of the levels of government is someone who would espouse tolerance and inclusiveness, Westwood said.

The meeting of around 230 people was held by the new Liberal branch in Bankstown, which was established by the right-wing president of the Young Liberals, Alex Hawke. Hawke, an avowed Christian, is vehemently opposed to gay marriage and abortion, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, and hopes to realign the party toward a more conservative social agenda.

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