Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has criticised a radio host for asking if her partner, Tim Mathieson, is gay during a live interview.

Ms Gillard, a staunch opponent of marriage rights for same-sex couples, branded the question by presenter Howard Sattler “absurd”.

Mr Sattler said to the Australian leader he would offer her a chance to clear up ”myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendo” during the interview on Perth’s 6PR.

“Tim’s gay?” Mr Sattler asked the prime minister.

“Well that’s absurd,” Ms Gillard replied.

“But you hear it,” Mr Sattler continued. “He must be gay; he’s a hairdresser. It’s not me saying it.”

“Well I mean, Howard, I don’t know whether every silly thing that gets said is going to be repeated to me now [in this interview]… but to all the hairdressers out there, including the men who are listening, I don’t think in life one can actually look at a whole profession full of different human beings and say gee, we know something about everyone of those human beings,” she said, before adding “it’s absurd isn’t it?”

Ms Sattler refused to drop the line of questioning, he said: “You can confirm that’s he’s not (gay)?”

“Oh, Howard, don’t be ridiculous. Of course not,” Ms Gillard said. “Let me bring you back to earth.”

She continued: “You and I have just talked about me and Tim living at the Lodge. We live there together as a couple. You know that. Yes, on the internet there are lots of what I’ve referred to in the past as nutjobs and I’m happy to use the expression again [of] people who peddle and circulate vile and awful things.”

Following the interview Mr Sattler was suspended by Fairfax Radio.

Ms Gillard ruled out introducing equal marriage in May following neighbouring New Zealand’s decision to introduce the measure.

Efforts to legalise marriage equality failed in the Australian Parliament last year.