NEWS of two Victorian Government officials addressing a conference organised by a hard-right, anti-gay group in Melbourne next month have been met with criticism from the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

Earlier this week, Premier Denis Napthine said Attorney-General Robert Clark and Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews (both pictured above) addressing the conference in late August was consistent with the state government’s tourism agenda to attract people to Melbourne.

The two senior Victorian Coalition MPs are part of a line-up for the World Congress of Families conference, a group that has backed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s so-called “gay propaganda” laws. The conference will also feature upper house Liberal MP Bernie Finn, NSW upper house Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile and Liberal Senators Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz.

The Age reported that Napthine said it was “quite common” for the government to have a representative at a variety of events because it was all about promoting Melbourne as an international conference destination.

However, Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Anna Brown said this was “deeply concerning”.

“The association of two senior Coalition ministers with a conference that promotes discrimination and hatred towards LGBTI people is deeply concerning, and diminishes the Victorian Government’s good work on expunging historical gay sex convictions and the support of the Abbott Opposition to last year’s new discrimination protections for LGBTI people,” she said.

“It is utterly inconsistent for a government that believes in diversity and supports the mental health of LGBTI people to lend its support to an event that promotes the very attitudes that contribute to those poorer mental health outcomes.”

Napthine also reiterated his support for the LGBTI community, highlighting that he was the first Premier to attend the Midsumma festival earlier this year, where he made the historical gay sex convictions expungement plans, and that these will be implemented by Clark himself.

Meanwhile, a petition on organised by LGBTI advocate Ben Cooper has emerged, urging the Victorian Government to cease all involvement with World Congress of Families.

“We take the view that no member of parliament should be involved in an event and/or give it’s support to an organisation that advocates that homosexuality should be a crime and that believes homosexuals can and should be converted to heterosexual,” the petition states.

At the time of writing, it had garnered almost 2700 signatures.


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