Australia’s new Deputy PM once claimed that ‘sordid homosexuals’ could wipe out humanity

Australia’s new Deputy Prime Minister has been chosen – and he does not have a great record on equality.

Barnaby Joyce, an opponent of same-sex marriage who ran on a traditional family values platform, resigned as Deputy PM this month after getting his mistress pregnant.

The right-wing National Party, which governs as part of the Liberal-National Coalition government, met today to elect Michael McCormack as its new leader.

Mr McCormack automatically becomes Deputy Prime Minister.

But the new Deputy PM, who represents the Division of Riverina, has a poor record on equality.

Michael McCormack is elected as the Leader of The Nationals (Photo by Michael Masters/Getty Images)

The politician is notorious for a 1993 column in which he blamed gay people for AIDS, and called for Pride Parades to be stopped.

He wrote at the time: “A week never goes by any more that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society.

“Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”

The figure distanced himself from his comments last year, when he was the minister responsible for overseeing a public vote on same-sex marriage.

In a statement last summer he said: “I wrote this editorial nearly 25 years ago and I want to assure the public my views have changed quite significantly since the time of publication.

“I have grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique.

“I apologised wholeheartedly for the comments at the time and many times since, but I am making this statement to unreservedly apologise again today.”3

Michael McCormack is elected as the Leader of The Nationals (Photo by Michael Masters/Getty Images)

Equality advocates have called on McCormack to “heal the wounds” caused by past hate, and actively support LGBT inclusion in rural and regional Australia.

Just.equal spokepserson, Rodney Croome, said: “Many LGBTI Australians will be justifiably concerned about Michael McCormack being our Deputy Prime Minister given his hateful comments against us in the past.”

“Many National Party voters will share our concern given the strong Yes vote in many parts of rural and regional Australia.”

“The apologies Mr McCormack made in the past are welcome but given the hatefulness of what he said, and the high office he has stepped in to, he needs to walk the talk.”

“He needs to get behind initiatives that will reduce the unacceptably high levels of LGBTI isolation, prejudice and suicide that still exist in some parts of rural Australia.”

“He needs to heal the wounds caused by the kind of prejudices he publicly expressed in the past.”

Liberal councillor Christine Forster – one of the party’s few out representatives, and the sister of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott – said McCormack’s past views were “abhorrent”.

She told AFP. “If you’re in public life you have to expect to be subjected to that kind of scrutiny.

“He’s said he doesn’t hold those views anymore and you’ve got to take that at face value.”

McCormack voted in favour of equal marriage in Parliament last year after his constituents overwhelmingly backed it in a public vote.