Opinion

by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

Mr Abbott’s comment that he is “threatened” by homosexuality harks back to a bygone era, when sexual difference was viewed as scary and dangerous.

To justify the statement, he told 60 Minutes “most people” agree with him. Well, the leader of the Opposition needs a reality check. Few people hold these views in modern Australia.

In fact today this kind of homophobia is really just the stock and trade of fringe, lunar-right groups like Family First and the ultra-conservatives. It’s shocking to hear it coming from the mouth of Australia’s alternative Prime Minister.

A majority of Australians see homosexuality as a non-issue. Rather than being threatened by it, they want to get rid of outdated discrimination. This is evidenced by strong community support (60 percent according to Galaxy) for my Equal Marriage Bill removing the barriers to same-sex marriage.

I’m at a loss to understand how somebody else’s sexual orientation impacts upon the leader of the Opposition in any way.

The only thing threatening about homosexuality is Tony Abbott’s attitude towards it. By characterising sexual difference as dangerous, he is legitimising irrational fears and prejudices. These prejudices should be named as wrong, not indulged by our political leaders.

While Mr Abbott calls himself a “liberal” he seems to spend a lot of time concerning himself with the private lives of others. He views virginity as a “gift” to be given from a woman to her husband and sees homosexuality as a threat.

It’s about time he started focussing on the issues that really matter to Australians: health, education, climate change — just to name a few. These are the issues the community expects an Opposition leader to be preoccupied with — not what they do between the sheets.

info: Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is the Greens spokeswoman on sexuality and gender identity.

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