An equal marriage supporter paid £600 ($1000 Australian Dollars) for a pair of Olympic champion, Matthew Mitcham‘s underwear.

Mitcham hosted the Closing Gala for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and opened the evening with a performance on his ukulele and stripped to his underwear to the accompaniment of Aqua’s Barbie Girl.

The event, which doubled as a fundraiser for Australian Marriage Equality, raising almost £2500 for the cause. Mitcham himself was responsible for £600 after a donor paid to buy a pair of his used underwear in an auction.

In a PinkNews interview in 2012, Mitcham talked about homophobia he experienced in the world of diving: ” I’d experienced homophobia when I wasn’t being forthright with my identity; when I wasn’t comfortable with it,” Mitcham explained. “People, kids especially, see that as a weakness and target it. When I was actually able to own it, I took all the fun away for the bullies. I’d found it hard to be comfortable with my sexuality at my original Brisbane team because I started with them at such a young age. Coming out to them would also have meant admitting to basically having lied to them as well. When I agreed to train in Sydney though, my new coach made absolutely sure that I felt accepted and welcomed for who I was.”

Newly appointed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd announced his support for equal marriage in May, having previously been against it.

The 55-year-old said he had come to “believe the secular Australian state should be able to recognise same-sex marriage”.

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, warned that a potential referendum on the issue that has been proposed by Mr Rudd isa less than ideal way of achieving equality, as cross-party support would still be required to pass a law.

He said: “It would lead to fear-mongering against the gay and lesbian community and, either a referendum or a plebiscite, would not lead to a change in the law directly.”

However, he welcomed Mr Rudd’s return to leadership.

“Having a prime minister who supports marriage equality opens up a new chapter in the debate by mainstreaming and legitimising the reform like never before,” he said.

Mr Rudd’s support is in stark contrast to Julia Gillard, who said on becoming prime minister in 2010: “We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples.”

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

Along with Julia Gillard, Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott continues to oppose equal marriage and refuses to allow his Liberal MPs a conscience vote.