Entertainment TV Bill Shorten’s Q&A special takes distressing turn on marriage equality

Bill Shorten’s Q&A special takes distressing turn on marriage equality

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was the sole panellist in a special Q&A on Monday night. Photo: ABC
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A Sydney man has told Opposition Leader Bill Shorten the word “fags” was scratched into the front of his home as the marriage equality debate turns nasty.

The Labor leader fronted solo on ABC’s Q&A on Monday night where he reassured the questioner that “this will pass”.

Audience member Jayce Gardoll had questioned the Coalition government’s promise for a “respectful debate” on marriage equality.

“Last weekend my housemates and I woke up to find someone had scratched the word ‘fags’ into the front of our house right here in Sydney,” Mr Gardoll said.

“What do you have to say to Malcolm Turnbull and the government and the people of Australia about the role of respectful debate when it comes to marriage equality?”

Mr Shorten responded: “The first thing I want to say to you is, this will pass. This is the last thrashings around of an outmoded view.

“I’m sorry you have to live with this rubbish. Your sexuality is your business.”

Mr Gardoll also referenced homophobic posters that were plastered on the walls of Melbourne laneways on Monday.

“Posters went up today around Melbourne claiming that 92 per cent of the children of gay parents are abused. These were headlined, ‘stop the fags’.”

The posters referenced statistics from a widely-discredited study by D. Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest.

Mr Shorten urged Australians and the LGBTI community to take care of one another through the debate.

He said marriage equality was inevitable, and reiterated Labor policy that marriage equality be decided in Parliament.

Another audience member slammed Mr Shorten for trying to block the national survey and denying Australians the right to have their say.

Mr Shorten said voters would have their say at the next election.

“If you find this [Labor] policy sufficient reason to vote for another party, that will be your democratic right,” he said.

“I don’t like the idea that LGBTI Australians are subject to a law-making process which other Australians on other matters are not,” he added, in a reference to the rarity of a plebiscite or postal survey.

Mr Shorten also rejected that the religious freedoms of businesses, priests and celebrants would not be protected by marriage equality.

“My experience, or what I imagine will be the case, is if someone didn’t want to bake a cake at your wedding, you probably wouldn’t ask them to. If someone doesn’t want to sing at your wedding you’re probably not going to ask them to.”

Watch the segment below:

Citizenship woes

Mr Shorten again defended his citizenship status and said he was not a “British agent”, but refused to produce documentation confirming his citizenship.

He said he renounced British ties, inherited from his English father, in 2006.

“We live in a system where [if] someone makes an allegation, they’ve got to have some evidence to back it up.”

Mr Shorten rejected that he’d played partisan politics as the citizenship drama enveloped the Coalition government.

“We haven’t actually demanded that Barnaby Joyce refer himself to the High Court. He did. We didn’t jump up and down about the Greens senators, they did.”

Section 44 of the constitution has forced the resignations of Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Senator Matt Canavan, and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts have also been referred to the High Court.

Asylum seekers

Conversation also turned to the mandatory offshore detention of asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by boat.

Mr Shorten repeated that a Labor government would deter people smugglers, but that that was not an excuse to indefinitely detain asylum seekers.

“I don’t accept that there’s a simple equation, that the only way you deter people smugglers is by having people in indefinite detention,” he said.

The policy was initially introduced by the Labor government under then-prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Asylum seekers have been processed on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on Nauru for up to four years. The Manus centre will be closed in October after the PNG Supreme Court last year ruled the processing centre was illegal.

The fate of more than 900 men remains unclear as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull negotiates with US President Donald Trump to settle vetted refugees.

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