Controversial former Liberal frontbencher Senator Cory Bernardi said in an interview this morning that he does not regret linking gay marriage to bestiality.
Bernardi said during a debate in the Australian federal parliament last September that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality. His comments prompted opposition leader Tony Abbott to ask him to resign as shadow parliamentary secretary.
When asked by Fairfax Media online editor Tim Lester during a video interview if he has changed his mind about his comments Bernardi was clear he has not.
The South Australian senator said that since he made those comments a petition has been started ‘by Green activists to recognize legally recognize multi-member unions’. Bernardi was referring to a petition from Polyamory Action Lobby which has only 47 signatures.
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said her party is not pushing for any other changes to the Marriage Act apart from to let two people to marry, regardless of their gender.
‘Linking the love that thousands of Australians have for each other to bestiality is disgraceful,’ said Hanson-Young, The Age reports.
‘Once again Cory Bernardi has attacked gay and lesbian Australians and has humiliated his party.’
But Bernardi stuck by his views. ‘If you’re going to redefine a word to satisfy the demands of a minority then you’re going to face continuing demands in that space,’ he said to Fairfax Media.
Bernardi said that people who want to marry animals are ‘an extreme example’, but said ‘it’s linked to the radical agenda of the Greens party’, alleging that party founder Peter Singer has ‘endorsed these sort of relationships and I find that absolutely abhorrent and disgusting’.
The senator, whose comments were condemned by the UK’s Conservative Party after he pulled out of a speech at a conference in Oxford, said his words were not ‘intended to offend people’ and some ‘drew inferences from it that they should never have done’.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener Rodney Croome called Bernardi’s comments ‘offensive’ and said:
‘Not one country that has allowed same-sex marriage has moved to legitimize polygamy or bestiality for the simply reason they’re not linked, legally, socially or culturally.
‘It is deeply wounding for same-sex attracted people to have their relationships demeaned in this way and we call for Senator Bernardi to be disciplined by Coalition leader, Tony Abbott.’
A Greens bill to legally recognize same-sex marriages from overseas in Australia is slated to be debated in the Senate on Thursday.
Croome called on opposition senators to support the bill as ‘a way to distance themselves from Senator Bernardi’ and to show that Australia respects ‘the laws of our closest allies like Canada, the US, New Zealand and soon the UK’.