Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who fought against same-sex marriage, is now claiming credit for the reform.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald this week, Abbott noted he had first mooted the idea of a public vote on the issue while facing pro-LGBT rebels within his party.
The former Australian leader was the highest-profile politician in the country to oppose equal marriage when his successor, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, held a 2017 postal vote on the issue that eventually led to the passing of a same-sex marriage bill.
Same-sex marriage opponent Tony Abbot claims he ‘helped make it happen’
Abbott, who faces an uphill battle to hold on to his Parliamentary seat in the upcoming 2019 elections, told the newspaper: “When all is said and done, I helped to make the [equal marriage vote] happen.
“I set up the process which opened up the possibility and even the likelihood of change.
“Now that it has happened, I absolutely accept the outcome. It’s the law of the land and that’s the way it is.”
The comments contradict Abbott’s well-documented record, both as prime minister and during the 2017 postal vote campaign.
As prime minister in 2015, Abbott blocked a free vote on the issue of same-sex marriage in Parliament, instead calling for a future public ballot before any action was taken.
Abbott’s actions delayed equality by more than two years, until his successor agreed to progress with the public vote proposals.
Tony Abbott campaigned against equal marriage during 2017 postal vote campaign
During the postal vote campaign, Abbott encouraged people to vote against same-sex marriage to “protect women and children,” explaining his belief that “children should have both a mother and a father.”
Abbott also hit out at “moral bullying” from the “gay lobby,” claiming that “broadening marriage weakens it.”
He said: “If you don’t like same-sex marriage: vote no.
“If you are worried about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, vote no.
“If you don’t like political correctness, vote no, because this is the best way to stop it in its tracks.”
At one low point in the campaign, Abbott appeared to suggest it would be “best” for his gay sister’s children to be raised by a straight couple, worsening a family feud that also drew in his own children.
Although 61.6 percent of Australians voted for equal marriage, Abbott ultimately abstained on the issue in Parliament.
Australia equal marriage vote ’caused depression, anxiety and stress’ for same-sex couples
A recent study found that negative messages during the postal vote caused significant “psychological distress” for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Australia.
The University of Sydney study, published on January 24 in the Australian Psychologist journal, found a significant link between exposure to homophobic campaign and media messaging and “increased levels of depression, anxiety and stress.”
The researchers explained: “More frequent exposure to negative, anti-LGB media messages was associated with increased psychological distress in LGB Australians during the postal survey.”