Australia’s Scott Morrison says gay people won’t go to hell after initial silence

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison give speech

Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, has said he doesn’t believe gay people will go to hell after an initial silence on the issue.

Morrison was forced to explain his position after he avoided the question of whether gay people go to hell at a press conference in Perth on Monday (May 13).

According to Tom McIlroy of The Australian Financial Review, Morrison released a statement on Tuesday (May 14) saying: “No, I do not believe that. It was a desperate, cheap shot from Bill Shorten who is looking to distract attention from his housing tax that will undermine the value of people’s homes.”

The question was put to Morrison at the Perth press conference amid discussion about Australian rugby player Israel Folau, who posted on Instagram to say “hell awaits” gay people. Both Morrison and Folau are Pentecostal Christians.

“I support the law of the country and I always don’t mix my religion with politics and my faith with politics. It’s always been something that has informed how I live my life and how I seek to care for and support others,” Morrison initially responded on Monday.

He then changed the subject to talk about how his mother had informed his beliefs.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty)

Bill Shorten slammed Scott Morrison for avoiding the question

Opposition leader Bill Shorten told media in Tasmania after the conference: “I cannot believe in this election that there is a discussion even underway that gay people will go to hell. I cannot believe that the prime minister has not immediately said that gay people will not go to hell.”

He continued: “I think if you want to be prime minister of Australia you are going to be prime minister for all people. And I just don’t believe it.”

Labor leader Shorten was clear about his own views: “I don’t believe gay people, because they’re gay, will go to hell. I don’t need a law to tell me that. I don’t believe it.”

Morrison has been outspoken about his anti-LGBT views and voted against marriage equality in Australia, despite his electorate of Cook voting 55 percent to 45 percent in favour on same-sex marriage.

The Australian federal election will take place on Saturday (May 18).