Alex and GeneOpenly gay bishop and equal rights campaigner Gene Robinson has touched down in Australia to a warm reception from NSW parliamentarians and progressive churches.

State Parliament’s lower house, the Legislative Assembly, unanimously endorsed a motion moved by independent Sydney state MP Alex Greenwich yesterday to welcome Bishop Robinson to NSW.

The motion also noted the positive impact the bipartisan support for marriage equality displayed by Premier Barry O’Farrell and the opposition leader John Robertson was having on the state’s LGBTI communities, and commended Paddington Uniting Church for helping organise Robinson’s tour.

Greenwich said he was encouraged by the number of his fellow MPs who spoke “in support of tolerance and acceptance”.

“I am proud that the NSW Parliament was able to put politics aside at the end of a robust debate to welcome such a prominent and influential individual to NSW,” Greenwich said.

The 66-year-old retired Episcopalian bishop is touring Australia to promote same-sex marriage and combat “ignorance, fear and prejudice” towards young gay people, speaking with church leaders and politicians before appearing on current affairs program Q&A on Monday.

Yesterday, Robinson urged Prime Minister Julia Gillard to follow the lead of her predecessor Kevin Rudd and openly support the push for same-sex marriage, saying the “importance of leadership” was vital on the issue.

“There is no overstating what a difference that can make to the 15-year-old who is going to hang himself because of all the negative things he has been hearing about being homosexual. I’m not talking about urban kids in the elite areas of Sydney or Melbourne, but someone in a tiny town far, far away from the city who feels isolated and hopeless,” Robinson said.

Last night Robinson made the only regional stop on his Australian tour, speaking at Adamstown Uniting Church in Newcastle at the request of its openly gay minister, Reverend Dr Rob Pattenden.

The world’s first openly gay bishop, Robinson was elected a Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 despite receiving death threats and facing staunch opposition from members of his own church.

Robinson will be touring Sydney and Melbourne until Sunday, June 2.

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