Prime Minister Julia Gillard has now pulled out of a keynote speaking appointment with the Australian Christian Lobby, following its leader 8Jim Wallace*’s widely-condemned statement yesterday unfavourably comparing the health of gay people to smokers.
At a debate in Tasmania yesterday, Wallace said that a homosexual “lifestyle” was more hazardous to health than smoking.
Gillard now acknowledges the ACL leader’s comments were “offensive.”
Shown on the promotional poster below, the PM was set to join Wallace on stage at the ACL’s Annual Conference in Canberra next month.
Gillard reacts in a statement today: “There are a range of deeply held views in the community on the issue of same-sex marriage but it is the responsibility of all parties in this debate to be respectful and responsible in any public comments they make.
“I believe yesterday’s comments by Jim Wallace were offensive.
“To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong.
“Although everyone is entitled to their own view, these statements reiterated again today on behalf of ACL are totally unacceptable.
“In light of this, I believe my attendance at the conference would be inappropriate.”
Since the ACL continues to be vocal against marriage equality, same-sex marriage activists have been very concerned that the Prime Minister would address what they say is “an increasingly extremist, anti-gay group.”
Today they welcome her decision to pull out of the event. “We thank the Prime Minister for so strongly rejecting the extremism of the Australian Christian Lobby,” says Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich.
“Australians continue to reject the tone used by the Australian Christian Lobby in this debate. It’s sad this organisation continues to misrepresent Christians and campaign on fear rather than facts.”
On the video below: Jim Wallace defends himself. Badly.