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Politics

Liz Truss, whose job is fighting discrimination, thinks it’s ‘irrelevant’ if her new trade chief is a ‘sexist homophobe’

Patrick Kelleher August 28, 2020
Liz Truss Tony Abbott

Liz Truss (Leon Neal/Getty) and Tony Abbott (Mark Nolan/Getty)

Liz Truss doesn’t want to talk about former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s history of sexist and homophobic comments, despite his rumoured appointment as UK trade chief.

Abbott, who fought tirelessly against the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia despite the fact that his own sister is gay, is set to become joint president of the UK Board of Trade with Liz Truss, equalities minister and international trade secretary, The Sun reported Wednesday (August 26).

His alleged appointment has raised concerns given his history of homophobia. He’s also widely regarded as sexist and as a climate change denier.

But the equalities minister, whose job is to combat things such as homophobia and sexism through equalities policy, thinks questions about his past comments are “irrelevant”.

Truss was asked by ITV News on Thursday (August 28): “Why is it right that someone who’s widely viewed as sexist, homophobic and a climate change denier should be representing Britain around the world?”

She proceeded to dodge the question for two full minutes, blithely repeating his CV instead.

“First of all, we are due to announce the Board of Trade and no final decisions have been made,” Truss said.

“But what I’d say about Tony Abbott is he’s a former prime minister of Australia. Australia is a key ally of the United Kingdom, and he has done a very good job in areas like trade.”

Liz Truss gives masterclass in avoidance.

When directly asked if she would be comfortable working with a man who had made sexist remarks in the past, Liz Truss repeated: “He’s a former prime minister of Australia, he’s done an excellent job on trade.

“And of course we’re working very closely with the Australians on striking a new trade deal.”

When asked again, Truss said: “I’m not going to spend my time talking about comments other people have made in the past.

“I’m a minister for women and equalities in Britain, and my focus is making sure that women, men, LGBT people, people of all ethnicities, have equal opportunities in this country.

“This is an irrelevant question because we have not yet announced the Board of Trade.”

Tony Abbott has a long history of opposing LGBT+ rights.

Abbott has a troubling track record of opposing LGBT+ rights throughout his political career in his native Australia.

The former prime minister blocked free votes in parliament on same-sex marriage during his time in office, instead calling for a future public ballot before any action was taken.

Abbott became the de facto leader of the anti-gay marriage campaign when his successor Malcolm Turnbull finally did put the issue up for a public vote in 2017.

During the postal vote campaign, Abbott encouraged people to oppose 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 told Australians: “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.”

Australia ultimately voted in favour of same-sex marriage, with an overwhelming 61.6 per cent backing queer people’s right to marry.

 

More: Australia, LGBT rights, liz truss, Tony Abbott

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