Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has suffered more fallout after claiming that same-sex marriage could pave the way for the legal recognition of sexual relationships between people and animals - pulling out of a speaking engagement at a Conservative conference in the UK and being dumped as Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.
Bernardi had already been forced to resign as Parliamentary Secretary to Opposition leader Tony Abbott following his comments during debate on a same-sex marriage bill in the Australian Senate on September 18.
‘The next step … is having three people that love each other should be able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society, or four people,’ Bernardi told the Senate.
‘There are even some creepy people out there who say that it's OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?'
Bernardi had been due to address the European Young Conservative Freedom Summit this weekend at Oxford University's St Hugh's College.
However Bernardi told organizers his comments had become a distraction after members of the British Conservative Party distanced themselves from his statements about same-sex marriage.
‘I contacted the organizers yesterday to say that my attendance at their conference had become a distraction,’ Bernardi said in a statement.
I had intended to talk about Australia and the Commonwealth, but that message would be lost, and I don't want to drag an unrelated issue into this important conference.’
His withdrawal from the conference followed the UK's Mail Online quoting a Conservative party spokesman as saying, ‘We strongly condemn Mr Bernardi's comments which don't reflect [Prime Minister] David Cameron's or the Conservative party's viewpoint in any way.’