Australian government ‘health ambassadors’ in gay hate controversy

The Australian Department of Health has come under fire for appointing two men’s health ambassadors who were allegedly involved in writing a document that espoused homophobic views.

Gay rights groups have called upon Health minister Nicola Roxon to dismiss Warwick Marsh and Barry Williams from the newly created men’s health panel, designed to promote male health issues.

The paper entitled ’21 Reasons why Gender Matters’ was published by the Fatherhood Foundation two years ago and Mr Marsh and Mr Williams were among 34 authors who contributed to the document.

Amongst other things, the paper describes homosexuality as ‘gender disorientation pathology’ and suggests that gay people are more likely to abuse children, be unfaithful or violent in relationships and abuse drugs.

Ms Roxon said she was disgusted by the comments in the paper.

She added she was investigating what role the men’s health ambassadors played in creating the paper, of which there were 34 authors.

“These comments, relating in the main to homosexuality, are unacceptable and repugnant,” she said on Wednesday.

“I firmly disagree with the views expressed … I regard this as a serious matter and will consider closely the responses I receive,” she said.

The paper suggests children are more likely to be abused by homosexual people than by heterosexuals. It reads: “The sad truth is homosexual abuse of children is proportionally higher than heterosexual abuse of children.”

It also suggests gay people are more prone to infidelity, stating: “While heterosexual couples are not immune from relationship breakdown, infidelity and the like, they are less pronounced than in homosexual relationships.

Mr Williams, president of the Lone Father’s Association, said he did not write or provide any material contained in the paper.

“I was not an author of that story,” he told AAP.

“I have no discrimination against gay people – I have a lot of gay friends and I worship their friendship.

“If I’m still an ambassador, I’ll work with dark people, foreign people, gay people and everyone, that’s my motto,” he said.

Mr Marsh, the president of the Father Foundation, said several academics had contributed to the document.

“I believe it’s pretty accurate because it’s their research and figures,” he said.

Mr Marsh said he was not anti-gay but added society would be wise to understand that there was such a thing as a male and a female, and problems arose when the lines between the two were blurred.

“There’s a harm caused when you go outside the natural order,” he said

Gay rights group Australian Coalition for Equality criticised the government’s appointment of the men.

“If the federal government is sincere about an inclusive and effective men’s health agenda it must remove these hatemongers immediately,” spokesman Rodney Croome said.

Eva Cox, chair of the Women’s Electoral Lobby’s national co-ordinating committee, said the Government had “stuffed it” when selecting the pair, and must try again.

Ms Cox said she counted Ms Roxon as a someone with progressive feminist views.

“I think she’s probably had bad advice. (Mr Williams and Mr Marsh) were very popular with the last government and I think maybe she doesn’t realise how toxic that kind of appointment would be,” she said.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people continued to face discrimination and high levels of prejudice.

“It is important that any men’s health program is therefore carried out in a non-discriminatory manner.”

The outcry at these appointments follow earlier controversy over the appointment of Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s partner, former barber Tim Mathieson amid nepotism charges from the opposition.