Update: Tasmanian Police have charged a 38-year-old North Hobart man in connection with the alleged assault of Tony Abbott.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he was “headbutted” by a man wearing a vote yes badge in Hobart yesterday.
Abbott, who had been campaigning against marriage equality at the time, told Macquarie Radio a man approached him on the street to shake his hand.
The Tasmanian Police have since said officers were investigating the alleged assault after a formal complaint was made.
People have widely condemned the alleged assault, including Alex Greenwich from the Equality Campaign.
“There is never a place for violence or abuse,” he said.
“Marriage equality is about respect and dignity for every Australian.
“There is no room for any disrespect either physical or verbal in this national debate. Our campaign has always and will continue to call for respect and everyone involved in this debate to act in a respectful way.”
Tasmanian marriage equality rights advocate, Rodney Croome, similarly condemned the alleged attack.
“This attack on Tony Abbott, like any violence on the basis of political belief, is beneath contempt and has no place in Australian public debate, especially when that debate is about love, commitment, tolerance, and respect,” he said.
“But I also urge Australians not to make a judgement about marriage equality on the basis of the delinquency of one person whose only link to the Yes campaign was wearing a badge.”
Other social media users have used the incident to highlight the far more severe forms of violence and assault LGBTI people face on a regular basis, as a means to illustrate that this isolated incident needs to be looked at in the wider context of the debate.
Let's be clear, #marriageequality is about respect. There is no room for disrespect verbal or physical from any side in this journey
— Tiernan Brady (@Tiernanbrady) September 21, 2017
I condemn violence in this debate. The former prime minister now has a "very very slightly swollen lip." Outrageous. https://t.co/niT2OBNbDM
— Kyran 🌈 (@kyranwheatley) September 21, 2017
Hope people are also remembering the long history of homophobic violence unleashed on queer people, including during this campaign. #auspol
— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) September 21, 2017
Very rapid condemnation of alleged attack on Abbott from all corners of the Yes campaign — Equality Campaign, GetUp, Just.Equal, pollies
— Lane Sainty (@lanesainty) September 21, 2017