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Australian PM challenged on gay marriage stance by student

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stumbled over his response when a high school student asked ‘Why are you so against legalizing gay marriage?’ during a school trip to Canberra
High school student challenges Australian PM Tony Abbott over gay marriage stance
Photo by Liberal Party of Australia

A high school student took advantage of the chance to quiz Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on some of the important issues facing the country by challenging him on his stance on marriage equality.

Students from Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in New South Wales were on a school trip to Government House when the Prime Minister went to talk to them and agreed to answer some questions.

The group of Year 9 students cheered and applauded when one girl broached the subject of marriage equality, saying: ‘I have a question. Why are you so against legalizing gay marriage?’

Abbott smiled, and began his response hesitantly: ‘Um, well look, um. I… I… I’m not against people having a wonderful relationship.

‘I’m all in favour of people having loving permanent relationships. But I guess it’s a definitional thing.’

To which the girl replied: ‘There’s a lot of gay people in our school I have a lot of gay friends. And it’s really sad that they can’t get married just because they’re attracted to the same sex.’

Keen to move on quickly, Abbott admitted defeat: ‘I’m getting a clear message, alright, OK. Let’s have a bloke’s question, OK?’

Abbott’s sister Christine Forster is in a same-sex relationship, and the Prime Minister has previously said he hopes to attend their wedding one day - despite not permitting his party to hold a conscience vote on the issue.

Australian satirist and drag artist Pauline Pantsdown commented on the exchange: ‘I get so much love for the future from this. Sometimes it seems hopeless in this country with bipartisan xenophobia policies; small-minded male-only governments; gay rights stopped dead in their tracks by ‘50s throwbacks like Abbott.

‘And then you listen to these kids and realise that we just need to wait a bit and they’re going to mow it all down.’

A video of the Q&A session was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday 13 March, and has had over 150,000 hits at the time of writing.

The video, uploaded by Aria McCarthy-Lochner, is captioned: ‘Tony Abbott avoids and waffles himself through questions regarding gay marriage, asylum seekers and feminine leadership’.

Skip to 2:30 below for the question on gay marriage.

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