Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has pulled out of a speaking engagement in England as his controversial comments regarding gay marriage followed him overseas.

Bernardi was forced to resign as shadow parliamentary secretary for Tony Abbott last week after comparing same-sex marriage to polygamy and bestiality in debate on a marriage equality bill.

The South Australian MP had flown to England to address the European Young Conservative Freedom Summit at the weekend at Oxford University’s St Hugh’s College.

In a statement, Bernardi said he contacted organisers to say that his attendance at the conference had become a distraction.

“I had intended to talk about Australia and the Commonwealth, but that message would be lost, and I don’t want to drag an unrelated issue into this important conference,” he said.

Britain’s Conservative Party attempted to distance itself from Bernardi’s speech last week, with a party spokesman telling The Daily Mail that the Conservatives strongly condemned the comments and that they did not reflect those of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron has pledged his support for same-sex marriage and promised to introduce marriage equality laws before 2015.

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