The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby says social networking sites are giving rise to homophobic views in the lead-up to the federal election.

Last week Queensland Family First senate candidate Wendy Francis received wide condemnation for her comments on Twitter likening gay marriage to “legalising child abuse”.

Victorian One Nation state president John Groves also outed himself as a potential gay basher with a tweet in support of Francis’ views.

“U have a backer in me, love to do some poofter bashing from time to time. The reason as a kid I was abused by such an animal,” Groves tweeted last week.

Groves has since deleted the post and Francis has apologised for her remarks, however VGLRL co-convenor Sarah Rogan told Southern Star Observer social media sites had given an unprecedented public platform this election for homophobic views to be made public.

“[That] level of hatred hasn’t come across so openly before and that has probably got something to do with this being the first campaign which everyone is following on Twitter,” Rogan said.

“I don’t think these views from the far right and conservative parties are that unusual but Twitter has allowed them to be more widely shared.”

Rogan said the comments were “hurtful” and won’t be ignored.

“If leaders in political parties start to take that stance, it’s really quite disturbing,” she said.

“If someone like the president of a political party says it’s okay to go out and go poofter bashing, then some people out there might think it’s okay and that’s frightening.”

Rainbow families across Australia spoke out against Francis’ comments, with people in Queensland, Tasmania and NSW lodging anti-discrimination complaints against the Senate hopeful.

Western Australian-based mother Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne — who’s raising a child with her same-sex partner — said it was “not okay” for Francis to make the remarks she did.

“It stigmatises our families, it’s just a horrendous comment to make that we are emotionally abusing our children,” she said.

“I think anyone in the public eye needs to be very aware of what comments they are making and what affect that does have on real families.

“In this case, children of gay and lesbian families who are old enough to hear those comments and understand what they mean will just be devastated.”

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