6th September, 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will no longer be attending the Australian Christian Lobby's national conference next month after describing comments reportedly made by its managing director, Jim Wallace, as "heartless and wrong".
Ms Gilliard said today it would be "inappropriate" for her to attend the conference following reports of comments Mr Wallace made during a debate with Greens Leader Christine Milne in Tasmania yesterday. The comments referred to the health effects of homosexuality and those of smoking.
In a statement, Ms Gillard said she believed Mr Wallace's comments 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."
Mr Wallace said in a statement today that his comments were misrepresented by gay activists and inaccurate media reporting. He said that despite media reports, at no stage did he say "smoking is healthier than gay marriage".
“What I did say is that heterosexual sex and homosexual sex are different and have different health consequences," he said. "They should not be packaged the same way as marriage because, as just one of many reasons, they are different."
“If we warn against smoking because it carries health dangers, we should also be warning young people in particular about activity which clearly carries health risks."
Mr Wallace said the Prime Minister's decision would come as a "deep disappointment" to Australia's Christian constituency and represented a "victory for the relentless campaign of demonization against anyone who would challenge the gay activists’ agenda in the public square".
- DAVID ADAMS