The Tasmanian Gay And Lesbian Rights Lobby are seeking legal advice on whether George Pell’s column condemning gay parents violates the state’s vilification laws.

We think there is a prima facie case that the article incites hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation which is against the law in Tasmania, TGLRL spokesperson Rodney Croome told Sydney Star Observer.

There’s no exemption in Tasmania’s anti-discrimination law when it comes to churches -¦ Cardinal Pell cannot hide behind his red robes, Croome said. The maximum fine for breach of the law is $20,000.

Pell wrote this week in The Australian that research showed traditional marriage provided a significantly lower danger of child abuse and murder and significantly lower risks of infant mortality, substance abuse, depression and suicide.

Co-convenors of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Somali Cerise and Rob McGrory condemned the article in a joint statement to the Star.

George Pell’s narrow worldview does not reflect the lived experience of Australians, whether gay or straight, in 2004 and is contradictory to published research, the statement read.

The article titled The Case Against Gay Marriage did not cite specific research studies, it simply stated the conclusions were matters of hard fact. However a speech by Pell made on 16 April and posted on the Sydney Diocese website provides extensive footnotes.

University of Sydney legal academic Jenni Millbank said Pell’s article was a wilful distortion of data.

None of the books [cited in Pell’s speech] are published by commercial presses or through an academic peer review process which would ensure that the research met any measure of quality or methodological validity, Millbank told the Star.

Millbank is the author of And Then The Bride Changed Nappies, a 2002 GLRL report into lesbian and gay parenting.

What is clear from the way the Christian right use social science data is that they first draw a correlation between things that may be completely unrelated and then leap from correlation to cause to cure, Millbank said. For example, the rate of marriage has declined and the rate of male suicide has risen, these are facts, but they then conclude that less marriage has generated more suicide.

I think if we have a society without discrimination where people are treated equally then those families will raise equally healthy and well adjusted kids, Millbank said.

Croome added: I’d just like to thank George Pell for providing one of the strongest cases yet for gay marriage. He goes at length about the advantages of marriage particularly for children, and if he’s correct, then that provides one of most compelling cases we’ve seen for recognising gay marriages as well.

Obviously I’m being facetious because I don’t believe that anything he writes is true.

Pell was unavailable for comment.

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