One of three openly gay Australian senators will rely on preferences from the Family First Party to get him over the line on election day.

The Democrats announced they would swap preferences with Family First, a deal that could see gay senator Brian Greig retain his seat.

Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, who cried during the Senate debate to ban same-sex marriage, said there were issues which the Democrats and Family First parties agreed on.

[These include] public ownership of assets, the priorities of health and education and conscience votes in parliament, he said.

While there are issues where we disagree with Family First there are also issues where we disagree with the Greens Party such as blocking supply, which they reserve the right to do.

Greens senate candidate John Kaye called the Democrats’ decision to direct preferences to Fred Nile and Family First in the NSW Senate above the Greens desperate and a slap in the face to supporters who favour gay and lesbian rights and women’s abortion rights.

Bartlett turned the criticism back on the Greens, saying their preference deal with the ALP showed they had abandoned the gay and lesbian community.

The Greens were shrieking on Saturday that Family First is against gay marriage, the same day the Greens Party rewards Labor for colluding with the coalition to ram through the anti-gay marriage bill, Bartlett said.

Senator Greig told The Australian he did not have any moral objection to taking preferences from the Family First party. Greig said he been elected in part by preferences coming from Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

Although Family First have not included any mention of same-sex relationships in their policy, they are considered a conservative Christian party. In a statement released this week, national party leader Andrea Mason said she rejected the term right-wing.

The Greens and other extreme left-wing parties think that any party opposed to them must be extreme right-wing.

Meantime, gay and lesbian activists have expressed disappointment over the Democrats’ decision, one group describing Family First as the political wing of the Assemblies of God.

Family First is portraying a mainstream image when in fact it is closely linked to fundamentalist churches with an extreme anti-LGBT agenda, Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Jen Van Achteren said.

And Somali Cerise from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said it was important for voters to know a vote above the line could go somewhere unexpected.

A vote above the line isn’t always going to go to who you think it is, Cerise said. Voters need to think very carefully about where their preferences are going.

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