Australia’s openly gay ambassador to France offered his resignation after Prime Minister Tony Abbott snubbed his partner in Paris.
Stephen Brady and his partner of 32 years, Peter Stephens, were waiting to receive the PM on the airport tarmac at around 7pm on Anzac Day (25 April).
But prime minister’s traveling party sent instruction that Stephens should not take part in the greeting but wait in the car. No explanation was given and the diplomat refused to comply.
Word of the incident, described privately by Canberra officials as ‘bizarre’ and ‘extraordinary,’ spread quickly through diplomatic circles.
A spokesperson for Abbott did not deny that it occurred but told Fairfax Media: ‘The prime minister was very happy to be met by Ambassador Brady and his partner when he arrived in Paris last month.’
Brady later offered his resignation but it was rejected. He still serves as ambassador and declined to comment.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has called on Abbott to explain the incident.
‘Australians deserve an explanation from Tony Abbott and if it’s true, Ambassador Brady and his partner deserve an apology,’ he said.
Brady and Stephens became the world’s first openly gay ambassadorial couple when Brady took office in Denmark in 1999.
Abbott, who is a vocal opponent of gay marriage, hosted a farewell dinner for the couple before they left Canberra for France and invited them to a staff dinner in Paris on 26 April.
Brady was awarded the Order of Australia on Australia Day this year for his ‘distinguished service to successive Australian governments.’