The Outdoor Recreation Party (ORP) is hoping to provide a gay friendly alternative to the Shooters Party in the Legislative Council at the NSW State Election.

The Shooters have a record of opposing gay rights – something that Outdoor Recreation Party lead candidate, David Leyonhjelm, said was influential in his decision to leave that party after he rose to become its Chairman in 1999.

“I attempted to get the Shooters to take on a Libertarian philosophy but I got absolutely nowhere,” Leyonhjelm told the Star Observer.

“They’re a single issue party and they recognise that as a problem. But when they’ve considered how to broaden their scope they’ve gone extremely conservative and that is manifested in how very closely they work with the Christian Democrats.”

“We don’t understand that because we know there are gay people who are shooters too.”

The ORP merged with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2009, and now runs as ORP in state elections and LDP federally.

Its state election campaign will largely centre on the rights of hunters, fishers, sports shooters, and boating and 4WD enthusiasts, but Leyonhjelm wants the GLBT community to know that the Libertarian approach of the LDP to social issues would continue into state politics as the ORP.

The party supports marriage equality federally, and at a state level would seek to reverse the ban on commercial surrogacy, which Leyonhjelm called “ridiculous”.

“It’s a commercial arrangement between consenting adults. Imposing a moral value over that is absurd. Prohibiting it will just drive it interstate and overseas.”

On the issue of violence around licenced premises, Leyonhjelm said it was a complex issue but that people who committed crimes under the influence needed to be made fully accountable.

“At the end of the day adults have a right to drink and if they drink too much and hurt someone they should accept that there are consequences from that. We don’t think that being drunk should be a defence for a crime – you should be held responsible for your actions.”

On the issue of exemptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act that allow businesses owned by religious groups to fire and refused to hire people over their sexuality or relationship status or personal beliefs, Leyonhjelm said that as a Libertarian he didn’t like the idea of telling businesses who to hire- even if he didn’t like their decisions.

But if religious owned businesses had that right to discriminate then all businesses should- including gay owned businesses if they wanted to require all staff to be gay or atheists organsations that did not want to employ religious people.

The Outdoor Recreation Party held a seat in the Legislative Council from 1999 until 2007.

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