You have to feel sorry for Tony Abbott. He has been criticised for speaking without thinking, in his comments on women’s virginity, and on homosexuality “challenging orthodox notions of the right order of things”.

The criticism is misplaced. As a devout Catholic, he does not think about these things — the church does that for him.
Of more interest is his remark that he feels “a bit threatened” by homosexuality.

I suspect most ordinary straight Aussies of his age would give a similar response. Especially men who were educated in single-sex Catholic schools.

It’s hardly surprising these blokes feel uncomfortable around gay men. They spent their formative years in schools and churches under the authority of some men who were a very real sexual threat.

And they will have been aware of this, even if only subconsciously.

The church also teaches that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered, evil. This too will have left its mark on the young man. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the (allegedly) grown-up Abbott is homophobic. I have spoken to gay people who call him their friend, and they quote his 2008 remarks on marriage.

“The love and commitment between two people of the same sex can be as strong as that between husband and wife… There is more moral quality in a relationship between two people devoted to each other for decades than in many a short-lived marriage.”

Doesn’t sound homophobic to me.

Abbott then had to spoil it by throwing up a piece of church-think: “A relationship between two men or between two women may be every bit as admirable as one between a man and a woman but it isn’t the same, and it can’t be a marriage however fulfilling and loving it might be.”

The worry is not that Tony Abbott might be homophobic. The worry is that he is prepared to light a bonfire of prejudice under gay people to get to the Lodge, despite his personal feelings.

Now that part of the boy, I definitely do not like.

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