A long-serving Liberal Senator from Tasmania who once said legalising gay marriages would lead to people wanting to marry the Sydney Harbour Bridge has lost his seat in the upper house of Australia’s Parliament. 

The Australian Electoral Commission on Thursday released the official Tasmanian senate federal election results, with liberal senator Eric Abetz unseated by Tammy Tyrrell from the Jacqui Lambie Network. 

Sixty-four year old Abetz, had utilised his 28 years in Parliament as a torchbearer for the conservative cause, opposing decriminalisation of homosexuality, gay marriages, abortion rights, climate action and was a supporter of the monarchy.

LGBTQI Ally Unseats Eric Abetz

Tammy Tyrrell (right) with Jacqui Lambie. Image: Facebook

LGBTQI advocates welcomed Abetz’s ouster from Parliament. “Eric Abetz was an implacable opponent of every LGBTIQA+ reform for almost thirty years,” Rodney Croome, President Equality Tasmania told Star Observer

“I am pleased the Tasmanian Liberal Party and Tasmanian voters have brought an end to Eric Abetz’ role in fostering anti-LGBTIQA+ discrimination and exclusion.”

Croome welcomed Tyrrell, an LGBTQI ally, taking Abetz’s seat in Parliament. “I am particularly pleased that Tammy Tyrrell has taken Eric Abetz’ place because she is a strong supporter of LGBTIQA+ equality. Like her colleague Jacqui Lambie, Tammy rejected the Religious Discrimination Bill wholesale and has spoken out in support of LGBTIQA+ equality,” said Croome.

“I look forward to Tasmanian politicians playing a more proactive role in fostering LGBTIQA+ equality at a federal level during this term of Government,” added Croome. 

Abetz’s Anti-Gay Vote

Soon after he was elected to Parliament in 1994, Abetz opposed the then Paul Keating-led Labor government’s law to legalise sexual activity between consenting adults in Australia. The law was a counter to the then Tasmanian Liberal government’s refusal to decriminalise homosexuality – Tasmania was the last Australian jurisdiction to do so in 1997. 

Abetz opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality and had issued a press release saying: “Federalism perverted to allow sodomy and incest.”

Abetz was a vocal ‘no’ campaigner during the national marriage equality vote in 2017. Abetz distributed fear-mongering pamphlets ‘It’s ok to vote NO’, where he claimed that legalising gay marriages would result in “compulsory radical gay sex education in schools”. 

Abetz claimed “primary school and grade seven children to act out as if they were in a homosexual relationship”. 

In a 2017 interview on SkyNews, he claimed that gay people could change and have heterosexual relationships. Perhaps, Abetz’s most cooked statement was that legalising same-sex marriage could lead to people marrying Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Abetz Blames Ageism, Sexism

Senator Eric Abetz with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Last year, after he was demoted and placed in third place on the Liberal party’s senate ticket, Abetz claimed he was being discriminated against because of his age and gender. 

“One thing I can’t do anything about is the day I was born, nor the sex that I was given courtesy of the chromosome interaction, whatever, that caused me to be a male,” Abetz told the host of Triple M radio last year. 

On Friday in an interview on ABC Radio, he blamed he was discriminated on account of his conservative values and returned to opposition to gay marriages. “You might call me old fashioned, but my view is that having the diversity in an ideal situation of a mum and a dad bringing up the kids is the best possible solution for socialisation.”

Abetz loss was welcomed by many on social media. “Eric Abetz claiming that he lost his seat in the the senate because he is a victim of discrimination (on the basis of being a conservative) is a work of art,” activist Sally Rugg posted on Twitter.

Sydney-based writer and performer Mark Humphries reposted  a 2017 video of his “marrying” Sydney Harbour Bridge. “Farewell Eric Abetz. Renewing my vows to the Harbour Bridge in your honour today,” said Humphries on Twitter.

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