A senior Australian politician has claimed that people who are ‘cured’ of homosexuality should be celebrated in public.

Government senator Eric Abetz made the surreal claim in a speech at the launch of book Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of ‘Marriage Equality’ by the head of the anti-LGBT Australian Marriage Forum.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Abetz made a string of stunningly homophobic remarks at the event, ahead of a showdown on same-sex marriage in Parliament this month.

The politician, who was previously Leader of the Government in the Senate, said: “Ever notice how when some people go from the heterosexual to homosexual lifestyle they are able to be celebrated and honoured for their honesty and courage? They’ve come out.

“Ever thought why there is no celebration for those that decide to go from the homosexual to heterosexual lifestyle? Are they not honest?

“Are they not coming out as well? And that is just one of the examples of the one-way traffic and bias from the media.”

He went on to claim that equal marriage would “steal from children” and do “irreparable damage to the next generation” of children.

Abetz is one of the diehard conservatives that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is trying to appease with a plan to hold a public vote on equal marriage, rather than allowing lawmakers to vote on the issue.

However, the public vote (plebiscite) has been slammed by opposition parties as a costly and redundant tactic, charging the taxpayer for internal feuds within the governing Liberal-National Coalition.

The plans may be voted down in the Senate, where the government does not hold a majority.

Abetz has previously suggested that even if the public votes for equal marriage, he would try to block it in Parliament.

He added: “There will be people in the parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.”

His brother Peter Abetz is also a politician, and has compared same-sex parenting to stealing children from Aborigines.