Conservative Australian senator Eric Abetz has denied reports that he said gay men don't want to get married, using prominent fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana as an example.
Coalition MPs decided against a free vote on marriage equality in a six-hour partyroom debate on Tuesday afternoon and evening, potentially setting back the popular reform by years.
Fairfax Media reported that Abetz, who is vehemently opposed to marriage equality, argued in the meeting that gay male couples do not actually want to get married. He allegedly pointed to Domenico Dolce and Stefan Gabbana as an example.
The openly gay fashion designers ended their relationship several years ago and same-sex marriage is not legal in their home country of Italy, but earlier this year the pair, who are still business partners, spoke out against same-sex parenting, saying children need a mother and a father.
Previously, Abetz has said legalising same-sex marriage would open a "Pandora's box" of practices like polygamy, and suggested Australia ought to follow Asian nations, rather than other Western countries, on this reform.
However, Abetz hit back at the allegations with a strongly worded press release, saying they were "simply false".
"As I said at a public forum in Hobart last week, not all members of the gay community have the same view on this question," Abetz said.
"Basing a story on second or third-hand reports of a party room discussion without any verification with me or my office, is extremely poor journalism."
However, the press release did not explicitly deny that Abetz had mentioned Dolce and Gabbana in the party room meeting, which was disappointing.
Abetz also hit out at opposition leader Bill Shorten, who described him as a "clown" this morning.
"it is even worse that the Labor leader, without knowing what was actually said, has chosen to accept this false report," Abetz said.
"But of course, he has form in this approach."
The alleged comments were met with derision on social media.
Just another day of Australia's long-standing trend of having absolutely no chill when it comes to marriage equality.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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