Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended his predecessor Tony Abbott’s right to speak at an anti-gay event in New York.

Turnbull said Abbott is entitled to speak wherever he wants, and that he would not be blocked from doing so.

The former leader of the Australian Liberal Party, is set to speak at at function in New York City which benefits the Alliance Defending Freedom organisation which opposes gay rights and abortion.

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“He does have fairly a conservative position on issues like that, so he probably would find he’s talking to people with similar views, perhaps,” Turnbull told Network Ten’s ‘The Project’ earlier today.

“He is entitled to speak to such audiences as he wishes.

“There are people in the Parliament, colleagues, fellow members of the coalition, who have different views and they are entitled to express them – and I respect their right to do so, just as they would respect my right to disagree with them.”

Turnbull said he wished Abbott “all the best” for his re-nomination for the Warringah seat in the next election.

Malcolm Turnbull, who is perceived as a moderate, took over as Prime Minister last year after his party voted to oust Tony Abbott – a strong conservative and opponent of same-sex marriage.

As a vote in Parliament loomed, Abbott put plans in place for a plebiscite (public vote) on equal marriage. His actions averted a showdown on the issue, but also caused a lengthy delay – as the plebiscite will not take place until  2017.

Turnbull has affirmed his support for the plebiscite, but equality activists have urged him to consider dropping the plans – and instead to allow a simple free vote to go ahead in Parliament.