TWO petitions in support of Safe Schools with a more than 70,000 signatures in total were tabled in the Senate last night.
The petitions – one from the Australian Greens and one from international LGBTI advocacy group All Out – were launched last week in response to far right Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s petition calling for an investigation into what he described as a ploy to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism”.
In contrast to the Greens’ and All Out’s counter-petitions, Bernardi’s petition only attracted 9499 signatures.
Last night’s petitions were presented by the Greens’ spokesperson on sexuality Senator Robert Simms during an adjournment (scroll down to watch speech).
“I want to put on the record just how distressed and outraged I have been by some of the statements made by members of this parliament on this issue,” he said.
“In particular, I was quite frankly revolted by the statements made by Mr George Christensen in the House of Representatives last week.
“I found the comments he made so odious that I do not wish to repeat them again. But let me say that I was horrified that, in 21st century Australia, we still see this kind of vile homophobia being brought into our parliament. It should be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” Simms continued.
“The kinds of statements he has made are hugely insulting to LGBTI people and hugely damaging. Homophobia is repugnant, and we all have a responsibility to fight it.”
Dawson federal Coalition MP George Christensen had likened the program to pedophile grooming.
Earlier this week, shortly before quitting due to his views on marriage equality contrasting with that of the Labor Party, now-former Western Australia Labor Senator Joe Bullock complained that the Safe Schools program ignored heterosexuality.
Former prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard also weighed in to the Safe Schools debate, with Abbott decrying the program as “social engineering“.
Howard said the people supporting Safe Schools were out of touch with “middle Australia”.