Campaigners for same-sex marriage coming to Australia have roundly condemned a physical attack against former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Abbott is in Tasmania capital city, Hobart, and was returning to his hotel this evening when a man confronted him.
‘A fellow sung out at me, “Hey Tony”. I turned around and there was a chap wearing a vote ‘yes’ badge,’ Abbott told shock jock radio station, 2GB.
‘He says, “I want to shake your hand.” I went over to shake his hand and then he head-butted me.’
Abbott said the man was unsuccessful in making good contact, but did leave him with, ‘a very, very slightly swollen lip.’
Abbott says a member of his staff try to then grapple with the man, but he ran off, ‘swearing his head off.’
‘It was just very disconcerting to find that the “love is love brigade” … should under the guise of wanting to shake your hand in fact tried to give [me] a so-called Liverpool kiss.
‘As he was scarpering away, amidst the “effing this and effing that”, it was a “you deserve it because of all the things you’ve said”.
‘It was pretty clear this was politically motivated violence.’
Abbott was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage while in power – speaking out despite the fact that his own sister is a lesbian and has campaigned for equality on the issue.
Abbott had been in Tasmania having lunch with ‘no’ campaigners. He posted a message on Facebook today reiterating his opposition: ‘Parents are concerned about the potential ramifications of the SSM [same-sex marriage] vote, if you’re concerned about it too, vote ‘No’.’
Tasmanian marriage equality advocate, Rodney Croome, was quick to condemn the attack, issuing a statement saying, ‘This attack on Tony Abbott, like any violence on the basis of political belief, is beneath contempt and has no place in Australian public debate, especially when that debate is about love, commitment, tolerance and respect.
‘But I also urge Australians not to make a judgment about marriage equality on the basis of the delinquency of one person whose only link to the Yes campaign was wearing a badge.’
Alex Greenwich, spokesperson for The Equality Campaign, said, ‘We condemn the violence against Tony Abbott that has been reported tonight.
‘There is never a place for violence or abuse.
‘Marriage Equality is about respect and dignity for every Australian. There is no room for any disrespect either physical or verbal in this national debate.
‘Our campaign has always and will continue to call for respect and everyone involved in this debate to act in a respectful and dignified way.’
Around 16million people have been sent voting forms in Australia’s plebiscite on whether marriage laws should be amended to accommodate same-sex marriage. Forms must be posted back by 7 November, with a result announced 15 November.
Check the Gay Star News marriage equality site for more news.