PREVIOUS comments on homosexuality from two members of Queensland’s revamped Liberal National Party (LNP) — including its new leader — have re-emerged, raising concerns about their personal stances on the LGBTI community.

The comments emerge as Queenslanders continue to wait for the official results of the January 31 state election, which at the time of print, so far indicates a win for the Labor party.

Four-time LNP leader, including as Opposition Leader in three failed election campaigns, and current caretaker Health Minister Lawrence Springborg once voted against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1990, when then-Premier Wayne Goss introduced a bill to amend the Criminal Code.

At the time, Springborg voted along National Party lines to not amend the code. However, the amendment still passed with the support of both the Labor and Liberal parties.

Shortly after, Springborg — who went on to merge the state’s Liberal and National parties to create the LNP — made comments to the media where he referred to the “disgusting behaviour” of some gay men who allegedly blew him kisses and winked at him from the public gallery.

“I was deeply offended when homosexuals leant over the the (sic) balconies of the House and made their offensive gestures,” he said in a story published in the now-defunct Sunday Sun.

“It is as though the Queensland gay community could not wait until the legislation had passed before starting their overt displays of disgusting behaviour.”

A clipping from the Sunday Sun, 1990

A clipping from the Sunday Sun, 1990

In 2002, while debating Anti-Discrimination legislation introduced by the Beattie-Labor government, Springborg called homosexuality a “lifestyle choice”.

“We recognise that with the evolution of our society people are increasingly making lifestyle choices that once were rare or at least not publicly considered acceptable,” he said on November 28, 2002.

On the topic of same-sex couples accessing tax-payer funded reproductive technology, Springborg said they should be denied access to such services and that they should not be able to use the Anti-Discrimination Act to “push their own personal agenda”.

“If a homosexual is refused access to tax-payer funded reproductive technology on proper medical grounds, that person should not be able to use the Anti-Discrimination Act as a means to push their own personal agenda,” he said.

“Again, while the National Party opposes discrimination on the basis of a person’s lifestyle choices, we do not condone a person who chooses to live in that lifestyle to push their preference on to others who are trying to administer services in an objective fashion.

“There is an enormous number of infertile men and women who desperately need to access reproductive services,” he continued.

“People who have made recreational choices should not have priority over those deprived by nature of the ability to reproduce, albeit if such reproduction is aided by high-cost modern science.”

Springborg also called efforts by LGBTI people to access reproductive services as “unwarranted and wasteful”.

When contacted by the Star Observer on whether the LNP leader’s views on homosexuality had changed, a spokesperson referred to an incident in the 2012 election campaign where Labor had run a candidate against Springborg who had authored homophobic and racist comments.

“Yes, I am homophobic. Homosexuals disgust me with their decadent attitudes to life and their life styles,” former Labor candidate Peter Watson wrote in a post on an internet forum.

Springborg’s office said some Labor MPs have never condemned the candidate.

“(Brisbane Central state Labor MP-elect) Grace Grace and (Labor leader) Anastasia Palaszczuk will not be found on record anywhere condemning the words, actions and sentiments of the very person they hoped to replace Mr Springborg in the Queensland Parliament,” a spokesperson said.

“The silence of Labor MPs about homophobia in their own ranks speaks volumes.”

Watson stood down as a Labor candidate and was eventually expelled from the party following condemnation of then-Premier, Anna Bligh, who said she was “very, very angry” that the party had endorsed him.

“The views of this man have no place in the Australian Labor Party… frankly they are despicable,” she said, according to the Brisbane Times.

Springborg’s office was later asked to address Star Observer’s initial and specific questions regarding his comments on homosexuality but failed to respond by time of print.

Meanwhile, past comments on the LGBTI community by Maroochydore state LNP MP and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Fiona Simpson, have also re-emerged.

Speaking on November 29, 2002 on her apparent support of controversial extremist Christian organisation Exodus International — a group that offered so-called “gay reparative therapy” before they closed in 2013 — Simpson said homosexuals could “grow into heterosexuality”.

“[Exodus’] mission is to support people who want to not live a homosexual lifestyle, but they also give them the freedom to grow into heterosexuality over time,” she said.

“There are a number of support groups throughout Queensland and, as I said, some very compassionate and genuine people who have come from a homosexual background who are in those groups.”

Similarly to Springborg, Simpson also referred to homosexuality as a “lifestyle” and later, a “sin”.

The Star Observer also contacted Simpson to seek clarification on her stance on homosexuality and to provide an opportunity to address her 2002 remarks.

“I understand that there are people who have been hurt by (these comments and) their reporting and that deeply saddens me,” she said.

“When I made those comments in 2002 I was sharing a friend’s personal story. I believe equally that every person has the right to have their story heard and that every person is valuable and deserving of respect.

“I appreciate that different people will have different stories and our community is more welcoming when we listen more carefully and speak more compassionately.”

Simpson was again contacted to clarify her personal position on homosexuality and “gay reparative” therapies but her office declined to provide any further comment.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays national spokesperson Shelley Argent said the LGBTI community could be worse off if the current LNP leadership were in power.

“Personally, I feel [Springborg] cannot be trusted to do what’s right for the LGBTI community,” Argent told the Star Observer.

“If the LNP get back into power LGBT rights will not improve. We can only hope if Springborg does become Premier that he and the LNP don’t make things worse.

“To me it will be devastating if the LNP retain power. It will be a case of so close but still so far.”

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