Conservative union leader Joe Bullock has knocked openly gay Labor Senator Louise Pratt from the top position of WA Labor’s federal senate ticket.

Bullock, who is the head of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) in Western Australia, won the top position on the senate ticket at the state branch’s preselections on Monday.

Bullock received 104 votes to Pratt’s 61 votes despite calls from Rainbow Labor members and LGBTI advocates to keep the senator in the safest senate position.

United Voice assistant national secretary Sue Lines was selected to replace senator Chris Evans immediately in the Senate.

The SDA has been a vocal opponent to progressive issues such as marriage equality and abortion.

“Ask yourself would society ever afford a special status to marriage if it had nothing to do with reproduction,” Bullock told delegates at the 2011 WA ALP State Conference.

“Marriage is special because it provides a stable, balanced environment for children raising. Homosexual relationships are naturally and necessarily infertile; it’s not marriage.”

It comes just six months after finance minister Penny Wong was temporarily demoted to the second Senate position in South Australia for senior Labor Right member, senator Don Farrell.

Some 22 LGBTI advocates from across the country signed a joint letter that said they were concerned over reports that Pratt would fall second to Bullock.

“We were similarly concerned when South Australia’s Labor Party initially preselected Senator Don Farrell above Senator Penny Wong, another ally of our community. We are concerned about what these choices may say to LGBTI voters and progressive voters more generally about the priorities and values of the Labor Party,” the letter said.

“Senator Pratt is highly regarded by LGBTI organisations, as she has always supported and worked very closely with grassroots stakeholders. She has helped to deliver real results on the issues that LGBTI Australians care about.”

Rainbow Labor national co-convenor Sean Leader also called on WA ALP members to keep the senator in the same spot.

“We are asking you, on behalf of LGBTI members of the ALP across Australia, to keep Louise in the top spot.  As you already know, Louise was elected to the first position on Labor’s Senate ticket for WA in 2007. We believe that she absolutely and unreservedly deserves to be retained in that same spot next week.”

Finance minister Penny Wong is the only other Rainbow Labor member in the federal caucus.

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