Federal Queensland Independent MP Bob Katter has claimed that Australia’s population will nosedive if same-sex marriage is legalised, in a letter to former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps.

Phelps wrote to Katter on August 16 after he said same-sex marriages should be “ridiculed” at the Marriage Day rally in the Great Hall of Parliament.

Phelps, who married partner Jackie Stricker-Phelps in a religious ceremony in New York in 1998, wrote to Katter to express her shock at the comments.

“I explained that I couldn’t understand why he would seek to have my long-term, committed and mutually interdependent relationship with my life partner treated as an object of ridicule,” Phelps told the Star Observer.

“I asked how he would feel having a public figure address a group of fellow Australians in the presence of media to exhort them to ridicule his relationship with his wife.

“I asked him to consider that there are diverse ways of finding happiness in the world and, for me, it was finding my soulmate and marrying her and that legal protection under the Marriage Act for us was extremely important.”

Two days later Phelps received a response from Katter’s office.

“Bob understands people are entitled to lead the lives they choose, and his choice to lead a life with Christian values includes his opposition to homosexuality and his support for the institution of natural marriage and families,” a spokeswoman wrote.

“Bob wants to see the Australian population grow, not diminish as in Western societies where the traditional ‘pair bond’ of marriage between a man and a woman is in decline.”

Phelps called Katter’s logic “strange”.

“It’s, dare I say, an oxymoron to say that we’re free to choose but then deny us choice,” Phelps said.

“If he wants to see the Australian population grow, not diminish, then he should be very happy about the lesbian baby boom.”

Katter’s office sent Phelps a more conciliatory letter on September 1 reaffirming his opposition but explaining that “gay people are … valuable members of our society”.

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