Brisbane Liberal party candidate and prominent lesbian doctor Ingrid Tall has been silenced by the party on the issue of gay marriage, drawing criticism from former AMA colleague Dr Kerryn Phelps.

I think it’s a shame that somebody’s in a high profile position and they’re asked a question as fundamental as basic human rights and equal rights for all citizens, and they pass up an opportunity to make a statement on behalf of the community, Phelps told Sydney Star Observer.

Tall shocked colleagues with her endorsement from the Liberal Party two weeks ago to contest the federal election.

She has since refused to discuss the issue of gay marriage with the media, although it is rumoured she disagrees with Howard’s plan to ban same-sex marriage.

I’m owned by the party, Tall told Sydney Star Observer, explaining her unwillingness to be interviewed.

The surprised response from colleagues about her choice of party has been attributed to Tall’s small -˜l’ liberal reputation within Brisbane’s lesbian and HIV communities.

In her former role as president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ) Tall had been a vocal critic of the Howard government’s health care policies. Tall’s varied public appearances included opening an AIDS Quilt showing and reading her favourite erotic fiction at a Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association fundraising dinner.

Gay doctor Wendell Rosevear protested alongside Tall at rallies against the Howard government and was invited by Tall to present his radical views to the AMAQ Ethics Committee, at which Rosevear lobbied for the decriminalisation of all illicit drugs.

I was a bit shocked when she aligned herself to the Liberal party but I own part of the shock, because I guess I stereotype people in the Liberal party, Rosevear told the Star. It’s hard for me to integrate how someone could align themselves with that position.

I do think that she values people and I do think that she nurtures open and honest debate on topics. And that’s why I say I respect her for her passion.

Former president of the Queensland AIDS Council Adrian Lovney met Tall in a professional capacity and praised her high level of support to QuAC.

I think it’s a great thing if more parliamentarians, whether they’re Liberal or Labor or otherwise have got a strong understanding of the issues around HIV, Lovney said. I think it would be an excellent thing if she were elected to parliament, in that sense.

Tall’s own views on gay and lesbian issues, even HIV-related issues, remain cloudy as she declined an interview with the Star on any subject. Phelps said such issues were not likely to disappear for Tall.

Howard appears to be taking a hardline, wedge politics approach. Ingrid is either going to have to compromise or clash, Phelps said.

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