Labor candidate for Melbourne, Luke Creasey, has withdrawn from the election following controversy over past social media posts.

In a statement on Friday, Creasey said he had contacted the ALP to withdraw as Labor’s candidate in the seat held by Greens MP Adam Bandt.

“While I made those awful comments many years ago and they in no way reflect the views I hold today, I understand, especially as a member of the LGBTIQ community, that we need to be careful about what we share or like on social media,” the Rainbow Labor Victoria Co-Convenor and high school teacher said.

“I think this is a really important lesson for young people that your social media footprint will follow you.

“It is clear the right thing for me to do is to stand down.

“I would like to thank everyone that has helped me, both within the party and across the community. I am sorry if I have let you down.”

Since Wednesday, posts from Creasey’s Facebook page from around 2012 were revealed to include memes containing rape jokes and posts making what he described as “immature” jokes about lesbians and Tony Abbott.

“I’m not going to defend the remarks, they were shocking and stupid,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.

“But he’s also come forward and said he was 22 at the time, seven years ago. He is mortified as he should be.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had joined the Greens in criticising Creasey for the posts, which it was today revealed also included a crude joke about watching a female friend have sex.

“Only Bill Shorten can explain why he’s prepared to accept the ‘young man’s defence’ when it comes to excusing this sort of behaviour,” Morrison said.

The Liberal party today lost candidate Jessica Whelan, who stood down to run as an independent candidate over anti-Muslim social media posts.

Another Liberal candidate apologised – but has not been forced to resign – over linking marriage equality to paedophilia in 2016, while another Liberal candidate has stood down over online anti-LGBTI commentary and an attack on MP Tim Wilson based on his sexuality.

A United Australia Party candidate is also now under fire in the ACT over a Facebook page in his name which referred to LGBTI people as “the most horrible people ever in my life” and labelled same-sex attracted women “dykes” and “big fat fugly chicks”.

The election will be held on May 18, assuming any of the candidates are left standing.

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