Australia’s opposition leader, who is vying to become the country’s next prime minister, has visited a Christian school that believes homosexuality is an “abomination”.
Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott picked Penrith Christian School in Sydney as the backdrop to launch a raft of education policies on Thursday.
As part of its Statement of Faith, in a section on homosexuality, the school says: “We believe that homosexuality and specific acts of homosexuality are an abomination unto God, a perversion of the natural order and not to be entered into by his people.”
On gender change, it says: “We believe the practice of attempting to or changing one’s gender through surgical and/or hormonal or artificial genetic means is contrary to the natural order ordained by God.”
Mr Abbott told reporters he “respectfully disagreed” with the school’s statement – but also praised its values.
“The great thing about a school like this is it’s not just about getting you through your exams,” he said.
“It’s not just about making good friends who hopefully will be your friends for life, important though both of those things are.
“In a school such as this it is very important that we have the right values to live by, and I guess the best value that we can live by is that golden rule to ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’.”
Following press coverage of Mr Abbott’s visit, Penrith Christian School announced it would be reviewing its Statement of Faith.
“Because of the capacity for it to be misunderstood, the school is going to review the way in which the policy is worded,” the chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, Stephen O’Doherty said.
“’The language that they’ve used in that statement comes from an older translation of the Bible, it’s not in step with modern language and doesn’t reflect the attitude that the school has to the treatment of people who identify as homosexual.”
Latest opinion polls show Mr Abbott is heading for victory in Australia’s general election on 7 September.
He is also against the idea of Australia holding a referendum on the issue.