A regional Wagga Wagga-based ’78er has invited Australia’s new deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to join him at this weekend’s Mardi Gras parade.

Ray Goodlass, who marched in the first Mardi Gras protest, raised concerns over McCormack’s comments in the early nineties, in which is called gay people “unnatural” and blamed them for the AIDS crisis.

McCormack has since apologised for those remarks, however they surfaced again after he replaced Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals.

“As a gay man living in McCormack’s home town, I experienced homophobia and McCormack’s apology did not undo the damage caused by his 1993 editorial,” Goodlass said.

“Last year I questioned the ethics of McCormack being given the job as Minister responsible for managing the marriage equality plebiscite.

“I have issued a genuine challenge to McCormack to prove his change of heart by marching in this year’s Mardi Gras. I am ready to accompany McCormack in the parade up Oxford Street.”

Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon supported Goodlass’ invitation to McCormack, having known him for many years.

“I have known Ray for a long time, and can assure Mr McCormack that this is a genuine offer from Ray that would enable the new deputy PM to show that he truly has left his bigoted views of the LGBTI community in the past,” she said.

“The Greens will once again have a float in this year’s parade where we’ll be celebrating the marriage equality win of the LGBTI community and protesting for further rights.”

During last year’s marriage equality debate, McCormack again apologised for his past remarks.

“I have grown and learnt not only to tolerate but to accept all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique,” he said.

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