Australian Prime Minister John Howard today called a general election, to be held on the 24th November. It has been speculated that he will support moves towards an increase in pro-gay legislation.

Mr Howard’s Liberal Party is around 12 per cent behind Kevin Rudd’s opposition Labor party in the polls.

At that level of support, switching LGBT voters, traditional supports of the Labor party to vote Liberal will become more significant.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be defending the Sydney seat of Wentworth, which after boundary changes now includes gay districts such as Darlinghurst and Kings Cross.

While, Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey is seeking re-election in North Sydney, another constituency with a high concentration of LGBT voters.

A report in June by Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) recommended that 58 laws need to be changed to grant gay, bisexual and lesbian Australians equal rights. These include key changes in the way that gay couples receive benefits from their relationships.

Calling the election, Mr Howard said Australia was enjoying “a remarkable level of national prosperity” and that the country has a bright future with him at the helm. “But that won’t happen automatically,” he added. “In order for that to happen, this country does not need new leadership, it does not need old leadership, it needs the right leadership.”

“The right leadership is the leadership that tells the Australian people where it stands on issues and what it believes in.

“Can I say, love me or loathe me, the Australian people know where I stand on all the major issues of importance to their future.”

While Mr Howard has called an election, his British counterpart, Gordon Brown is still reeling from the fallout from not calling an election.

An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph puts David Cameron’s Conservative Party on 43 per cent, seven points above Labour on 36% and Sir Menzies Campbell’s Liberal Democrats on 14 per cent.