A candidate for Bob Katter’s Australian Party, Tess Corbett, has sparked controversy with comments that draw parallels between homosexuality and paedophilia.
In an interview with The Warrnambool Standard yesterday, the candidate for Wannon, in Victoria's south-west, said both homosexuality and paedophilia went against Christian principles and that many homosexuals and paedophiles could not see anything wrong with their behaviour.
She feared paedophiles would fight for their activities to become legal in a similar way that homosexuals had fought for the legalisation of homosexuality.
Ms Corbett said she knew of a judge who had been charged with paedophilia who said he loved children.
“This particular person could not see anything wrong with what he did,” she said.
“He thought he had rights even though paedophilia is not legally and morally right.”
Ms Corbett said she put homosexuals and paedophiles “in the same category as moral issues”. Some elements of society “like to bring in their own agenda and change long-lasting laws”, she said.
“They should not be able to enforce their beliefs on the rest of society.”
Ms Corbett said she was against gay marriage, saying marriage should be between a man and a woman: “Any other deviation is a deviation.”
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the comments were “deplorable”.
“They are bigoted and must be condemned. This is a test for Bob Katter,” Mr Tehan said.
“If he stands by these comments from an endorsed candidate of his party and fails to act, he deserves outright condemnation as well.”
Ms Corbett said paedophilia and homosexuality were moral issues when Katter’s Australian Party was principally concerned with political matters.
Opposition to gay and lesbian marriage was not “the real Katter argument”, she said.
Ms Corbett said she had mentioned her comments on homosexuality and paedophilia to Mr Katter when he was in Warrnambool on Tuesday to address a rally by the Farmer Power group and he had told her to “lay low” on the issues.
Shane Hernan, a member of the Warrnambool gay-straight alliance youth group YUMCHA, said there was a big difference between homosexuality, which was not a crime, and paedophilia.
He said Ms Corbett’s comments were intended “to scare people into thinking that same-sex marriage is evil, and that it is not to be permitted”.
“Thankfully, this thought is now a minority of the population. More and more people are accepting to same-sex couples, with nearly everyone knowing someone who identifies as gay or lesbian.
“Same-sex marriage is not going to destroy the sanctity of marriage,” Mr Hernan said.
Ms Corbett’s comments were among a number of issues she raised yesterday — most of them related to Australia’s rural sector.
She said the party was mainly concerned with issues such as opposing the ownership of Australian farms by foreign countries and the emigration of foreign workers into Australia.