Leading Australian politicians defend businesses campaigning for same-sex marriage

Two leading Australian politicians have defended businesses that are campaigning for same-sex marriage.

Senator Simon Birmingham and Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop have defended leaders of businesses that came under first for their support of marriage equality.

The federal frontbenchers backed 20 chief executives including the heads of Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank after they received criticism for urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage earlier this week.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton hit out at the businesses, and said the companies should “stick to their knitting” and focus on customer service, a comment which spurred Birmingham and Bishop to defence.

Dutton said on the interview with 2GB: “If they want to run for politics, well resign from their position and stick their hand up at the next election but don’t jam your politically correct views down our throats.

“Some of these CEOs who are doing the wrong thing (…) frankly need to be publicly shamed and I think people frankly are getting sick of all this politically correct nonsense,” he added.

Senator Birmingham saids that business executives had helped pave the way for equality in the past, and that should not change now.

“Throughout history, business leaders have often stepped ahead of legislators in supporting reforms in relation to gender equality or racial equality,” Senator Birmingham said.

“I see no reason as to why business leaders are not free to do likewise when it comes to issues like marriage equality.”

Rep. Bishop added that everyone should be able to take part in the debate over same-sex marriage, no matter who they are.

“People are free to take part in public debates and this is an issue that I’m sure will be the subject of public debate for some time,” she said.

“If chief executives believe that it’s in the interests of their company to collaborate on a public statement, then they’re free to do so.”