Manly Liberal MP Mike Baird has “strongly recommended” Opposition leader Tony Abbott break his silence towards the gay and lesbian community, and take up offers to meet with a community delegation.
Abbott is yet to respond publicly to offers from both Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE), and the Manly Gay and Lesbian Community (MGLC) group in his electorate, which both issued invitations for a meeting following comments by Abbott that he “felt threatened” by the GLBT community.
Repeated calls to Abbott’s office inviting him to take part in an interview with Sydney Star Observer also went unanswered.
Baird spoke to SSO after it was reported he had reneged on an invitation to meet with MGLC.
MGLC co-president David Burrell had invited both Baird and Abbott to a dance party scheduled this Saturday, March 20.
“We want to speak to them about some of the issues that concern us as people living in his electorate, in an environment that isn’t meant to be imposing or threatening, or a protest,” Burrell told SSO.
Those hopes were scuttled though after an online media report erroneously labelled the event “a protest”.
Burrell is again attempting to organise a community meeting for Sunday, April 18.
“The hand of friendship remains outstretched towards the group in any way, but I can’t go to an event that has been labelled an ‘anti-Abbott party’,” Baird said, before assuring he would do all he could to facilitate a community meeting with Abbott.
“I am very keen to offer any assistance I can. Tony is very approachable, I’m sure he would be open to meeting a delegation to discuss — at least, that would be my strong recommendation, and I’m certainly happy to convey those thoughts.”
Although Abbott is yet to publicly respond to any invitations from the gay and lesbian community, he did attempt to defend himself on ABC’s Four Corners, claiming, “I have many friends who are gay”.
“I have never had a personal issue with it,” he told the program, despite his record campaigning as a student politician to maintain the ban on homosexuality during the 1980s.