The Australian opposition leader, Tony Abbott, who is against equal marriage in the country, has been the target of a small group of equal marriage activists during dinner with a journalist at a restaurant.

Mr Abbott was dining at Melbourne’s Lygon Street when the protestors surrounded his table, and began to chant: “Tony Abbott, you’re a bigot, gay marriage you don’t dig it.” They were quickly removed by the hotel staff.

Ali Hogg, behind a campaign group called Equal Love, organised the protest after she was tipped off by a fellow diner in the restaurant.

Mr Abbott is understood to have retorted by saying: “I think you’ve made your point. I think you should leave now.”

Yet, the protestors continued chanting outside, banging on the restaurant windows, chanting: “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right.” Ms Hogg also told Australian media that some passers-by joined the protest, while staff members at the restaurant itself made a make-shift petition in favour of equal marriage and presented it to Mr Abbott.

Mr Abbott said in a statement: “I think people should be able to enjoy a quiet meal with a friend on a Sunday night in Lygon Street.” To which Ms Hogg replied: “Our dinners get interrupted by his bigotry over the airwaves too often.”

The opposition leader, though he opposes equal marriage, has said he would support what he called ‘enduring civil unions.’ Earlier this month, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, publicly confirmed her relationship with another woman, which, though eliciting praise from her brother, did not induce in him a change of heart.