Australian senator addresses evangelical group supporting ‘gay cure’

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Australian Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz opens the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting on September 10, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Representatives from G20 member countries are meeting this week in Melbourne to discuss jobs and employment growth. Brisbane will host the G20 leaders summit in November. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

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.

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