Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made her first public appearance since being ousted as Prime Minister in June, and when asked, blamed her opposition to equal marriage on her 1980s feminist politics.

Speaking on the institution of marriage as a whole, Gillard said she went to university during the 1980s, and questioned marriage, noting that she herself had never entered into a marriage.

A young boy posed the question of why she was always opposed to equal marriage during her time as PM.

She said: “I do understand that the position I took on gay marriage perplexed many people given of who I am and so many of my beliefs. I’ve actually had lots of conversations with many of my old friends on this, some of whom have got a different view than me.

“I’m a lot older than [the boy], and when I went to university and started forming my political views of the world, we weren’t talking about gay marriage, indeed as women, we were critiquing marriage, and if someone had said to me as a 20-year-old, what about you get into a white dress to symbolise virginity, and you get your father to walk you down the aisle and give you away to a man who is waiting at the end of the aisle, I would have looked like ‘why on earth would I do that?’”

“I am conscious that maybe these views have dated and maybe the way in which people interpret marriage now is different to the kinds of interpretations I had.”

She continued: “I think marriage in our society could play its traditional role, and we could come up with other institutions which value partnerships, value love, value lifetime commitment. I have a valuable lifetime commitment and haven’t felt the need, at any point, to make that into a marriage.

“So I know that’s a really different reasoning than most people come at these issues, but that’s my reasoning.

“When will gay marriage be law in Australia? Well it won’t be about what I think, even if I was still in parliament it wouldn’t be about what I thought. It would be about what every member of parliament thought. The next really big thing for gay marriage to be seriously considered by the federal parliament is for there to be a conscience vote on all sides of politics and I hope that comes.”

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) last month reported that, prior to being ousted as the country’s leader, Gillard had considered reversing her opposition to equal marriage.

On becoming prime minister in 2010 she said: “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.

In April, Australia’s Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott said he opposed proposals to hold a public vote on equal marriage during September’s election.

Efforts to legalise the measure failed in the Australian Parliament last year.