Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott has praised his sister’s candor for standing as an openly lesbian candidate for a traditionally conservative party as part of the Liberal Party ticket for council elections for the City of Sydney.
In the letter sent to Sydney voters, the same-sex marriage opponent and Liberal leader called his sister ‘brave.’
‘My sister Chris [Forster] is one of the bravest people I know,’ Abbott wrote, ‘It takes real guts for a basically conservative person to admit she’s gay and to build a new life based on who she really is.’
‘She’s managed to negotiate the inevitable hurt in a way that’s kept the love of her vast network of family and friends.’
The City of Sydney and the state government electorate which covers it are both currently held by the Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore who is also the Member for Sydney.
However changes by the Liberal held New South Wales state government have meant that Moore must this year choose between the two roles after MPs were banned from also being local councilors.
The area has the highest concentration of LGBT voters in any electorate in Australia. However Abbott told News Ltd papers that she was not running on her sexuality.
‘She’s running for Sydney City Council on her policies, not on her sexuality, but the way she’s handled this shows the character she’d bring to public life,’ Abbott told News Ltd.
‘Chris and her partner Virginia live in Surry Hills and love our great city.
‘They admired Clover Moore but think that, after 24 years in office, she’s run out of good ideas for a city that’s been standing still since the [2000 Sydney] Olympics.’
Forster is believed to be the first openly lesbian candidate to have been endorsed by the Liberal Party in the state of New South Wales.
Forster and partner Virginia Edwards are on the record as being supporters of same-sex marriage and say they would invite Abbott to their wedding if and when they decided to marry, but they have only been a couple for four years.