Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended Liberal candidate for Chisholm Gladys Liu after comments calling LGBTI issues “ridiculous rubbish” resurfaced.

The Guardian republished comments Liu made an interview with the outlet in 2016 in which she expressed that the Chinese-Australian community viewed same-sex marriage and other issues negatively.

Liu was nominated to replace independent MP Julia Banks, who last year left the Liberal Party citing bullying from within the party and now plans to run against Health Minister Greg Hunt in the seat of Flinders.

Liu ran a campaign against Labor in Chisholm on messaging app WeChat during the 2016 election, and claims she had a major role in bucking the national trend and winning Banks the seat from the Labor party.

Hitting back at The Guardian‘s report, calling it “fake”, Liu said she was simply expressing the views of some members of the Chinese-Australian community.

“I reject any suggestion the comments reported in 2016 were my own views,” she said in a statement.

“At the time I was responding to a question about comments I had received from some members of the Chinese community. I firmly support equality across our community.”

Liu, who had previously run unsuccessfully for the Liberal Party, has publicly campaigned against Safe Schools and marriage equality.

In 2016, she helped deliver a petition against the Safe Schools program, which gathered an alleged 5,000 signatures from Chinese-Australians, to the Victorian Liberal Party at parliament.

“Stop Safe Schools programs teaching our children homosexual ideas and practice,” read a flyer accompanying the petition.

“Stop stealing our children from our own culture and values. Protect parents rights and say ‘no’ to the un-Safe Schools program.”

In response to Liu’s criticism of their reporting, The Guardian released audio of the Chisholm candidate’s response in the interview and stood by the story.

“A lot of Chinese parents they just do not agree with letting boys go into a girls’ toilet. They strongly oppose the Safe Schools program,” she said in the audio.

“Not only toilets, it’s also the crossdressing, the introduction of transgender – this is something they found difficult to accept, especially to primary aged children.

“The second thing is same sex marriage, now that is kind of connected to the first one, that is their belief that same-sex marriage is against normal practice.

“The Chinese people come to Australia because they want good education for their children, good environment, they want good things for their next generation, not to be destroyed – they use the word destroyed – by these sort of concepts of same-sex, transgender, intergender, crossgender and all this rubbish,” Liu said.

“To them this is just ridiculous rubbish.”

Morrison defended Liu from criticism over the remarks.

“As she said at the time when she was campaigning for the previous Liberal candidate, and now current member in Chisholm, she was simply saying that these were the views of that community,” the Prime Minister said.

Banks slammed Liu’s comments as “abhorrent and misleading” and downplayed Liu’s role in her 2016 election victory.

“Her comments are made by her and had nothing to do with my campaign and my WeChat campaign was not managed by Gladys Liu. She was going off on her personal tangents and those posts were certainly not endorsed by me.

“My WeChat material was by me and my team and it was just a direct copy of my Facebook posts,” Banks said.

Liu’s Labor opponent in Chisholm, Jennifer Yang, told the ABC that Liu’s comments were “appalling” and said they “hurt a vulnerable group of people in our community”.

“Gladys Liu and Scott Morrison cannot pretend now she did not say or do these things. The people of Chisholm deserve to know what kind of person the Liberals want them to vote for.”

Related reading: ‘Same rules for everyone’: growing up gay in the Chinese Australian community

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