Government minister tells gay business exec to ‘stick to knitting’

An anti-gay marriage Australian government minister is facing allegations of homophobia after he told a gay business exec to “stick to knitting”.

The comments came after a joint letter signed by the leaders of some of Australia’s biggest businesses urging the right-wing Coalition government to stop blocking same-sex marriage.

Among those to sign the letter was Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas, who is openly gay.

Peter Dutton, the country’s anti-gay marriage immigration minister, singled out Mr Joyce for criticism at a Liberal Party event over the weekend.

According to ABC he said: “Alan Joyce, the individual, is perfectly entitled to campaign for and spend his hard earned money on any issue he sees fit, but don’t do it in the official capacity and with shareholders’ money.

“Mr Joyce is an exceptional CEO… but if he has a particular view on any issue it should be expressed as an individual.

“It is unacceptable that people would use companies and the money of publicly listed companies to throw their weight around.”

He proceeded to claim: “I’d prefer publicly listed companies stick to their knitting and that is delivering the services for their customers and providing a return for their shareholders.”

Qantas was not impressed with his claims.

A spokesperson responded: “Qantas speaks out on a number of social issues from Indigenous recognition to gender diversity and marriage equality.

“We do so because we believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier.

“We respect the fact that not everyone agrees with marriage equality, but opinion polls show the majority of Australians do, as do many of our employees.”

Mr Dutton previously derided the business letter as “politically correct nonsense”.

PM Malcolm Turnbull refuses to permit a free Parliamentary vote on the issue, and is thought to have made assurances to his Coalition’s anti-LGBT wing against any such move during his leadership bid.

Ivan Hinton-Teoh of just.equal said: “All Australians should be free to voice their views and lobby politicians, including those business leaders who support marriage equality.

“Many CEOs recognise the importance of equality for their employees and customers and have a right to represent that to law-makers.

“It’s not appropriate for a Government minister to attempt to shut down views he doesn’t agree with.”

“The country has been debating marriage equality for more than 13 years. In that time every other English speaking western nation has had the debate, achieved the reform and moved on.

“In the absence of political movement on marriage equality it’s only right that community members who find themselves in positions of power and influence use it to raise the issue, standing with the majority of Australians who wish the reform to pass.”