Just weeks after being kicked out of office, the Australian Liberal party has decided to embrace limited gay equality.
Former Prime Minister John Howard, who lost office and his own seat in Parliament in last month’s federal election, has been replaced as party leader by Brendan Nelson.
The former Liberal/National coalition government failed to make any decisions on gay equality across a range of issues outlined for them in June by a report from the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
It listed the 58 laws that need to be changed to give gay, bisexual and lesbian Australians equal rights.
Now Mr Nelson says the party is in favour of the changes, but continues to reject gay marriage, adoption or access to IVF treatment.
“Our challenge is to say to ourselves, how would I feel if that were me?” he told ABC TV.
“Every Australian, as far as taxation, social security and those things, should be treated equally.”
Mr Nelson’s comments will increase pressure on the new Labour government to bring forward legislation as promised during the campaign.
“It is clear that the removal of discrimination against same-sex couples is supported by the leaders of both major parties,” the Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rod Swift told AAP.
49-year-old Mr Nelson has drawn comparisons with Tory leader David Cameron.
A GP by profession, he is socially liberal in a way that his predecessor never was.
The far right of the party regard him with suspicion as he attempts to rebrand them as ‘small l’ liberal and in touch with modern Australians.
He has previously spoken in Parliament about his brother’s death from AIDS, saying:
“Homosexual people are our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our sons and daughters, and some are even parents, and they should be able to live in a society that is free of intolerance, persecution and hatred.”
He beat Malcolm Turnbull to become Leader of the Opposition on 29th November, by 45 votes to 42.