Eric Abetz is the former Leader of the Government in the Senate and the current Senator for Tasmania. The politician, who has been a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage and inclusive sex education, is set to address the final annual dinner of Christian evangelical group Salt Shakers, which supports and actively propagates co-called ‘gay cure therapy’ and which considers the senator as their good friend.
Its website says: “Counselling and support is available for those who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle or are struggling with same-sex attraction. A large number of international groups, many founded by former homosexuals, assist those who want help. See the Organisations list for contact details for those groups.” It links to a number of extremist Christian gay cure groups, some of which claim to provide “complete freedom from homosexuality”.
Rodney Croome of Australian Marriage Equality told Buzzfeed that it could be a sign of things to come, as the issue of same-sex marriage is set to head to a controversial public vote. He said: “The fact he has not been censured is a worrying sign about the extent to which gay hate speech will be tolerated during a plebiscite.” Abetz has previously suggested that even if the public votes for equal marriage, he would try to vote it down in Parliament. He added: “There will be people in the parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.” His brother Peter Abetz is also a politician, and has compared same-sex parenting to stealing children from Aborigines.