Australian PM to skip Pride amid criticism on same-sex marriage

The Australian Prime Minister will not be attending Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebrations this week, insisting he has “other matters” to attend to.

Malcolm Turnbull’s government is not on the best of terms with LGBT activists these days – failing to bring about same-sex marriage despite overwhelming public support, allegedly censoring an LGBT anti-bullying scheme, and forming voting alliances with homophobes.

So it’s unsurprising to hear that the once-moderate leader just can’t make it to Pride because, um, he’s washing his hair that day.

He confirmed to reportershe would not be attending the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, the country’s largest Pride festival.

Turnbull said: “I go most years, I’m not going this year, I’ll be interstate on other matters. But Lucy and I have been strong supporters of Mardi Gras and the major sponsoring organisations for many, many years.”

Even the invite to Turnbull had been controversial given his recent record.

The Mardi Gras membership passed a motion to bar Turnbull from attending the event during their annual general meeting, only for the decision to be thrown out by the Board.

Turnbull became the first sitting Prime Minister to attend the Mardi Gras last year after being a frequent attendee at the parade as a local federal member.

However, as leader of the Liberal-National coalition he has faced pressure from his own ultra-conservative backbenchers on LGBT rights.

At the time of his leadership bid, Turnbull assured his MPs that he would not bring about same-sex marriage without a public vote.

Plans to force a public vote on the matter fell apart last year, and though opposition parties have urged Turnbull to resolve the issue via a free vote in Parliament, Coalition backbenchers remain opposed, effectively halting all progress on the issue.