Liberal party politician Warren Entsch says an apology can’t repair the damage done by Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace after he claimed smoking was healthier than gay marriage.
Wallace made the comments at a debate on marriage equality at the University of Tasmania yesterday (5 September), prompting Prime Minister Julia Gillard to cancel her keynote speech at an ACL conference next month.
Member of Parliament Entsch told the PM that Wallace’s remarks yesterday (5 September) were ‘stupid, spiteful and disgusting’ and that sorry isn’t enough, reported ABC News.
He said: ‘When I read this I thought that Jim Wallace must have been hibernating under a rock or in a cave somewhere in the deep, dark depths of the wilderness of Tasmania, maybe on the western coast somewhere, and is suddenly awakened from an absolute sleep from probably 1,000 years ago.
‘He’s probably still walking on his knuckles. I find it highly offensive.’
Entsch also applauded Gillard for pulling out of the conference.
In a statement issued by the Prime Minister, Gillard said: ‘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.’
During the debate, Wallace said: ‘I think we’re going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community’s own statistics for its health, which it presents when it wants more money for health, are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years.’
Leader of the Australian Greens party Senator Christine Milne, who opposed Wallace in the gay marriage debate, responded that discrimination is the root cause of health problems in the gay community.
She said: ‘What I know is that the mental health issues for young gay people particularly are certainly increased when discrimination occurs.’