News

Our new Deputy PM said being gay is "sordid" and "unnatural"

Is Michael McCormack Australia's version of America's VP, Mike Pence?

Michael McCormack is our shiny, new deputy PM. His only competition for the spot was George Christensen, the guy who just last week posted a photo wielding a gun alongside the comment: "You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?" Speaks volumes...

But what do we know about the new Barnaby? Well, when he was the editor of a rural newspaper in 1993 he wrote a column in which he called gay people "sordid" and "unnatural", so there's that.

"A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don't become further entrenched in society," he wrote in The Daily Advertiser.

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

The disease spread by "their unnatural acts" is of course AIDS and McCormack's op-ed was in response to demonstrations in Washington demanding equal rights for the LGBTIQ community.

"How can these people call for rights when they're responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome?" he asked.

McCormack also criticised Stuart Littlemore, the journalist on Media Watch at the time, for having "the gall to criticise various newspaper editors across Australia for 'gay bashing'".

"He ridiculed them for showing some moral backbone and condemning homosexuality.

"It's just as well some newspapers are speaking up and acting as watchdogs on moral issues. If it was left up to the likes of Littlemore, heaven knows some of the all-embracing attitudes society would be told it was OK to accept."

Unsurprisingly, people have already come to his defence, hiding behind everyone's favourite epithet: "It was a different time". Not that different though, given McCormack, who was 28 at the time, was soon forced to apologise for the piece after sparking several complaints to the Australian Press Council.

On Sky News, Simon Breheny from the Institute of Public Affairs thinks people are taking it a "step too far" given that McCormack explicitly said he (now) doesn't agree with those comments and has apologised for him.

I mean he does seem truly repentant and has gone above and beyond to make amends with the LGBTIQ community, just check out how apologetic he was in 2010 when asked about the homophobic slur.

"I apologised for it - I have moved on from it and as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of it."

Wow. Truly moving stuff.

Powered by GIPHY

Also, the "it happened 20 years ago" brush off feels particularly insincere given the airtime given to Julia Gillard's bathroom renovations and Bill Shorten's conduct as a union official during the same time.

McCormack's inflammatory comments paired with his new role elicit inevitable comparisons to American Vice President, Mike Pence.

While running for the US House of Representatives in 2000, the "Sycophant-in-Chief" made shocking suggestions HIV funding should instead be used to dissuade people from homosexuality. Basically, take money from PrEP and give it to gay conversion therapy.

Powered by GIPHY

"Congress should support the reauthorisation of the [HIV funding] Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus," he wrote on his campaign website.

"Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour."

Eerily similar, no?

Having said that, McCormack did vote in favour of legalising gay marriage after 54.6 per cent of his electorate showed their support, so at least he has more of a backbone than his predecessor who abstained from the monumental vote.

Aside from McCormack's homophobic hate speech, his maiden speech in 2010 revealed he doesn't put much stock into that whole climate change debacle. Slow clap to you, Michael McCormack

"When it does not rain for years on end, it does not mean it will not rain again. It does not mean we all need to listen to a government grant-seeking academic sprouting doom and gloom about climate changing irreversibly," he told parliament.

Similarly, Pence supported Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal last year and questioned questioned why climate change is such a "paramount issue for the left."

"For some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country and around the world," he told Fox & Friends.

Yeah, for some reason...

Powered by GIPHY

While McCormack's anti-gay diatribe rears its head every so often during his career, the rest of his voting record should be an equal cause for concern.

He's voted strongly against protecting the Great Barrier Reef and ending illegal logging - not exactly a surprise given his stance on climate change.

However, his MO is meant to be standing up for the vulnerable Aussies - representing the average folk in rural Australia - which should make us question some other things he's voted strongly against, including: increasing transparency of big business by making information public, protecting citizens' privacy and stopping tax avoidance.

Not exactly in the interest of the average man.

The revelation of Barnaby's affair was particularly smarting because it was so at odds with his public persona. Will McCormack's voting history reveal the same sense of duplicity? Only time will tell...