Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald has said that the “majority of families” do not want their children to think about kids with gay dads during a Senate committee hearing into LGBTI school discrimination.

Macdonald, whose political career is likely coming to an end after the Queensland LNP dropped him to fourth position on the party’s Senate ticket, is the chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee looking into the Sex Discrimination Amendment bill which would remove discrimination exemptions at the centre of the religious freedom debate.

  “The example given was someone having two dads and the rainbow family children, and other children might not have felt comfortable about that,” said Macdonald.

“The alternative also applies for the majority of families who might not want their children to think about children with two dads.

“Whether that’s right or wrong is irrelevant from my point of view, but it does show that other people have rights too.”

Macdonald is referred to as the ‘father of the Senate’ given his 28-year career, which makes him the longest-serving politician in Australian parliament.

The Senate committee is holding hearings around the country, and Macdonald made a similar comment when addressing Rainbow Families’ Felicity Marlowe at the hearing in Brisbane.

“I think you said children would be discouraged in a faith based school from saying they have two dads—I think you said something like that,” he said.

“Does that make the other children in the school uncomfortable about what would be, I suspect, strange to them—that one of their classmates can have two fathers and not be like them? Does it make them feel uncomfortable, and do they then have rights or feelings that then become confused.”

“That’s a really interesting question, because I think you would need to dissect the meaning of the word uncomfortable,” Marlowe replied.

“Families in Australia come in all different shapes and sizes and I think it would be folly to suggest that they only exist with a male or female mother and father.”

Macdonald said the number of children with same-sex parents is “certainly not insignificant, but as a percentage number it would be smallish” and that his “question was simply: what about the others?”

Greens Senator Janet Rice took to Twitter to criticise Macdonald for his comments, saying, “According to this Liberal dinosaur’s flawless logic, his personal uneasiness about two men sharing a bed means that school students shouldn’t know if their friends have gay dads. Or something.”

The committee was set to deliver a report on by February 11 2019, but has now sought an extension of the reporting date to February 12.

During debate over legislation to introduce a plebiscite on same-sex marriage in 2016, Macdonald claimed that “clearly there is no discrimination against same-sex couples and hasn’t been for many years now”.

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