A federal Liberal MP has sparked a furious response after writing a press release labelled homophobic and stupid.
Victorian MP Chris Pearce, the parliamentary secretary to federal treasurer Peter Costello, today slammed a proposal by Greens senator Kerry Nettle to include a question about sexuality in the national census as a fanciful piece of politically-correct nonsense.
We long ago accepted that the Australian Democrats live with the fairies at the bottom of the garden, he said.
The Greens have taken that one step further: they now want us to count them.
Pearce called Nettle’s proposal political-correctness in its looniest form.
For example, this amendment calls for sexuality to mean -˜heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality that presently exists, existed in the past or may exist in the future’ – Senator Nettle is asking the Australian people to indulge in clairvoyance!
Federal shadow treasurer, Labor’s Wayne Swan, called on Peter Costello to censure Pearce for the stupid comments.
The Treasurer ought to demand his Parliamentary Secretary repudiate and apologise for his offensive and stupid remarks, Swan said in a statement to SydneyStar Observer.
Pearce’s statements came in response to a proposed amendment circulated in the Senate by Kerry Nettle on Wednesday.
In its current form, the census allows gay and lesbian couples to declare they are in a same-sex relationship.
However, there is no question about individuals’ sexuality.
It is uncertain whether senator Nettle’s planned amendment, if allowed, would be included in the next national census on 8 August.
Nettle said Pearce’s opposition to a census survey of sexuality was absurd and his reference to fairies degrading.
I think that just shows a disregard for the issues of sexuality, she told the StarI take that as a derogatory comment that he’s making about raising of these issues.
This is somebody trying to pander to a conservative audience who shares his homophobia.
Pearce denied his press release targeted the gay and lesbian community.
The press release was not directed towards anybody’s sexuality, he said in a statement on Friday morning.
It was directed at the stupidity of the Greens.
But the Liberal MP’s comments have prompted an outcry from gay activists.
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor David Scamell called Pearce’s attack homophobic.
It is outrageous that a member of parliament would try firstly to tie it to a political correctness or to some sort of political agenda, Scamell told the Star.
And it’s secondly quite disturbing that a MP would use quite clearly homophobic comments to try and derail what is essentially trying to get information which is important to providing services.
The inclusion of a direct question about sexuality would allow for improved services to gay men and lesbians, Scamell said.
Census questions aren’t intended to make political statements, but rather to work out exactly what the social make-up is of Australian society.
Having a question about sexuality in the census is important both in terms of leg reform but also around issues around social responses to health -¦ that cater for gay and lesbian populations.
National activist Rodney Croome urged Pearce’s dismissal.
There’s no place in a national ministry for people who abuse minorities, Croome told Sydney Star Observer.
I call on [prime minister] John Howard to sack him.
Croome said he would raise the issue during a meeting with the prime minister’s office scheduled for next week.
Rod Swift from national lobby group Australian Coalition for Equality said Pearce’s comments were hurtful and offensive.
It might be news to Mr Pearce, but Australians with minority sexual orientations aren’t ‘fairies’ -“ they’re hard-working taxpayers, often raising families, Swift said.
He should immediately retract his offensive description of gay people in his statement and make a public apology to the entire Australian community for making such divisive comments.