Twenty-five year old Lewis Freeman-Harrison, a Bendigo city council candidate who was a prominent campaigner against same sex marriages in the area, has admitted he was wrong and has apologised to the LGBTQI community for his past actions.
Freeman-Harrison told Star Observer that he has also signed the Victorian Pride Lobby’s Rainbow Local Government Campaign that asks candidates to pledge that they will stand for the rights, safety and inclusion of LGBTQI Victorians in their local communities.
Freeman-Harrison, grew up in a same sex household, and in 2017 set up the ‘Bendigo Vote No Australia‘ page on Facebook, that was subsequently taken down for alleged hate content. More recently, he reportedly made comments against Drag Story Time events.
The candidate who is contesting the elections from the Eppalock ward said his views had changed and added that the statement had not been made for political gain.
“Actions do speak louder than words and this public apology is me taking my first step toward mending the pain of my actions,” Freeman-Harrison said. “I have had members of the community contact me accepting my apology, and have even asked me out to have a drink with them once restrictions are ease!”
“Leopards don’t change their spots,” wrote a local resident in a letter to the Bendigo Advertiser.
“This is the same person who towed billboards through Bendigo streets advocating that gay and lesbian couples be refused the same legal recognition as their heterosexual counterparts,” said the letter, adding, “same-sex attracted Bendigonians continue to live with the hurt brought on by his caustic actions.”
Another local posted on the candidate’s video apology on Facebook.
“Behind a no marriage equality position is often a raft of other misogynistic and paternalistic principles. Where does he stand now on the Safe Schools Program, rights for trans folx (sic), supporting trans and non-binary kids in schools, abortion and same sex adoption? I hear his tears of political regret but not much else.”
Eppalock Ward candidate, Lewis Freeman-Harrison, wishes to publicly apologise to the LGBTQIA+ community for his actions in 2017 whilst spearheading the “Vote No” campaign against marriage equality.“I understand there are people in this community who are still upset by my actions from 2017. I take full responsibility for the views I held and the subsequent damage of my actions. I wholeheartedly apologise to the LGBTQIA+ community for what I did. I was wrong. I am sorry I was ignorant; I am sorry for the hurt I caused you. I am asking for the extending hand of forgiveness.”Mr. Freeman-Harrison said he believed that three years was ample time for introspection and the changing of views, just as former Prime Ministers, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd did, both after a three-year period when they had previously voted against marriage equality. “I changed my views based on several reasons. First, I dealt with some of my own distortions of homosexuality. I grew up in a same-sex household that was not always a pleasant environment which affected the way I perceived other people. Second, after witnessing and seeing true love in the LGBTQIA+ community, I began to understand that I was wrong to try and stop someone from loving someone else. Third, I grasped that if heterosexual couples had the option of deciding whether to marry or not, so should same-sex couples have the choice as to whether to seek to achieve a status and a set of entitlements and responsibilities on a par with those enjoyed by heterosexual couples. It has been a personal journey for me, and I am thankful to my family and friends for helping me see the error of my ways.” Mr. Freeman-Harrison emphasised that life is about making mistakes, growing, and learning from them. “I am more than happy to discuss this matter with anyone who wishes to talk and reassure them of where I stand. A leopard might not be able to change its spots, but the human species is known for its ability to adapt and change for the better.” -ends-For further media information contact:Lewis Freeman Harrisonlewisfreemanharrison@gmail.com 0413 144 434Authorised by Lewis Freeman-Harrison of 73 Ellis St, Flora Hill 3550
Posted by Lewis Freeman-Harrison for Eppalock Ward on Monday, 31 August 2020
Freeman-Harrison in his apology said he understands that people were upset with his actions.
“I take full responsibility for the views I held and the subsequent damage of my actions. I wholeheartedly apologise to the LGBTQIA+ community for what I did. I was wrong. I am sorry I was ignorant; I am sorry for the hurt I caused you. I am asking for the extending hand of forgiveness.”
He pointed to other political leaders who changed their views, including, former Prime Ministers, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.
His experience growing up was the reason for his staunch views against same sex marriages, he claimed.
“I grew up in a same-sex household which wasn’t always pleasant. I was hurt and I projected that hurt onto others and that was wrong.”
“First, I had to deal with some of my own distortions of homosexuality… Secondly, after witnessing relationships within the LGBTQIA+ community, I began to understand that I was wrong to try and stop someone from loving someone else. Third, I understood that if heterosexual couples had the option of deciding whether to marry or not, so too should same-sex couples have the choice to marry if they choose to.
“A leopard might not be able to change its spots, but the human species is known for its ability to adapt and change for the better,” Freeman-Harrison added in his apology.
Will the community agree with this and vote for him remains to be seen!