The gay and lesbian community has lost one of its staunchest Liberal Party allies.

Environmentalism, an understanding of gay and lesbian issues and a commitment to republicanism: Australia’s most unlikely Liberal, Malcolm Turnbull, today announced his decision not to contest the seat of Wentworth at the upcoming federal election.

Turnbull thanked his staffers and the voters who had shown their support over his five and a half year stint in the seat, and made a thinly veiled reference to the Liberal Party’s stance on carbon emissions as a reason for his decision.

“As a Member of Parliament, a Minister and especially as leader of the Party I have been proud to defend the principles of freedom, opportunity and enterprise, fundamental values of the Liberal Party,” he said before thanking former prime minister John Howard for appointing him Environment and Water Minister.

“However, I regret that an important reform begun in that time, the establishment of an emissions trading scheme, is no longer Liberal Party policy.

“When I ceased to be leader of the Opposition at the end of last year I resolved that I would not precipitate a by-election by resigning from Parliament. However, I did say that I would reflect carefully.

“A decision like this is a very personal and heartfelt one, which can only be made by me and my family.”

Turnbull was arguably the strongest voice for moderate Liberals. He was defiantly pro-choice on abortion matters and was a supporter of the gay and lesbian equality movement. Though he never offered unequivocal support for same-sex marriage, he stood up to Christian conservatives over their views on same-sex de facto rights.

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