The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen is supporting comments made by the head of the Australian Christian Lobby Jim Wallace, who last week suggested that a gay “lifestyle” is more hazardous to health than smoking.

When asked to condemn Mr Wallace’s comments on ABC TV’s Q&A programme, Dr Jensen said “I am generally supportive of ACL.’’

He added that Mr Wallace had “given us an opportunity to talk about something significant, namely the question of health risk.’’

Last week, Mr Wallace sparked fury after arguing that legalising equal marriage in Australia would be a bad move because he claims LGBT people generally have higher rates of health inequality compared to the average heterosexual smoker.

Mr Wallace made the remarks during a same-sex marriage debate at the University of Tasmania.

He also suggested that life expectancy for gay men is up to “20 years” lower than for heterosexuals.

Mr Wallace was criticised for his views, with LGBT campaigners accusing him of using out of date research for his arguments.

On Thursday it was announced that Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard had pulled out of attending next month’s annual ACL conference in Canberra after hearing of Mr Wallace’s remarks.

She said in response: “To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong”.

Ms Gillard, who remains opposed to equal marriage, added “I believe my attendance at the conference would be inappropriate.”