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Australian MP resigns as minister after calling colleague’s gay son a ‘pillow biter’ and a ‘shirt lifter’

Nick Duffy August 22, 2014

An Australian MP has stepped down from his role as a deputy chief minister, after he made alleged homophobic remarks about the gay son of a colleague.

Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister Dave Tollner had made remarks in a meeting about Joshua Higgins, the son of Daly MP Gary Higgins, labelling him a “shirt lifter” and a “pillow biter”.

Mr Higgins refused to attend all meetings over the alleged homophobic slurs, and opponents had called for Mr Tollner, a member of the Liberal Party, to stand down.

It has now been confirmed that Mr Tollner has resigned his duties as a minister, though he is still intending to serve as a backbench MP.

Chief Minister Adam Giles said he would take on the minister’s duties for the “foreseeable future”.

Opposition Labor Leader Delia Lawrie had said: “In the private or public sector, such repugnant language, bullying and disrespect for a colleague’s son would result in the sacking of an employee.

“An apology does not cut it. What message does it send to the Member of Daly, his son, the community to let this behaviour go unpunished?”

In an earlier statement, Gary Higgins said the family had dealt with “similar issues before”, and that Mr Tollner had his support.

He added that “My son and I accepted an apology from Mr Tollner”, and that he “may have misinterpreted” the originial comments.

Earlier this summer, Mr Tollner was criticised for appearing to mock indigenous Australians.

More: Anti-gay, Australia, Australia, homophobic, minister, mp, politician

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