UK Health Secretary wears LGBT+ pin as he defends ‘homophobic misogynist’ Tony Abbott
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defended former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about his attitude towards women and LGBT+ equality saying ‘he’s also an expert in trade’.
Hancock wore a rainbow NHS badge – to support LGBT+ NHS workers – as he made the comment.
Today’s interview on Sky News sees the row over Abbott’s appointment to the vital post-Brexit Board of Trade enter its 12th day.
It’s seen people question his past comments on women, LGBT+ rights and climate change.
Meanwhile, the UK Government is yet to formally confirm Abbott will take the job. However, Hancock’s support for Abbott today confirms the government still wants him for the role.
Despite that, critics and opposition politicians are lining up to attack Abbott’s appointment – which may still force a government u-turn.
Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves told Sky News anchor Kay Burley: ‘I think your description of him as a misogynistic homophobe is an accurate one.’
Meanwhile Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Abbott is ‘not the kind of person’ to represent the UK.
‘Well, he’s also an expert in trade’
But Hancock said: ‘As far as I understand it, the proposal is that Mr Abbott supports the UK on trade policy, which is an area in which he has got a huge area of expertise.
‘I bow to nobody in my support for everybody to love who they love, whoever that is.
‘But we need to have the best experts in the world working in their field and as the former prime minister of Australia, he has a huge amount of experience.’
Burley challenged the health secretary about Abbott being a ‘homophobic misogynist’.
But he replied: ‘Well, he’s also an expert in trade.’
He added: ‘What I’m saying is we need experts in different areas and somebody who is the former prime minister of Australia is obviously an enormous expert in the field of trade.
‘It doesn’t change my views.’
Abbott’s record on LGBT+ rights
Abbott was Australia’s prime minister for two years from 2013 to 2015.
He was a particularly outspoken critic of same-sex marriage equality. In particular he said ‘let’s be careful about describing every lasting sexual bond as a “marriage”’.
His views helped push Australia towards a postal referendum of marriage equality. Same-sex couples won the day but the debate stirred up significant hatred towards LGBT+ Australians.
Moreover, as Abbott tried to rally Australians to vote against same-sex marriage, he met with a family conflict.
At the same time his own sister Christine Forster was calling for marriage equality and hoping to wed her fiancée Virginia Edwards. It sparked an embarrassing row about whether Abbott would attend his sister’s wedding.
Indeed he reportedly said he feels a ‘bit threatened by homosexuality’.
Moreover he has also made sexist remarks. He described abortion as the ‘easy way out’.
In particular he once said ‘men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command’.
However Abbott has denied he is a misogynist. And quizzed by UK MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday he said about the quote about male authority: ‘I am not sure I ever did say that.’
Meanwhile in 2017, he said global warming was ‘probably doing good’, and compared environmental policies to ‘primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods’.
‘Not the kind of person’ to represent UK
The possibility he made take the post-Brexit trade job has been controversial from the moment it first leaked.
Last week it was Liz Truss in the firing line. She is both the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade and the Equalities Minister.
An ITV journalist asked Truss about ‘sexist, homophobic’ Abbott seven times in two minutes. But she repeatedly dodged the question.
Today’s interview with Hancock was slightly different in tone. And it may indicate he is less keen than Truss on Abbott’s appointment.
So far Abbott has confirmed he’s met with the British government and is ‘more than happy to help’ to help the UK with trade. However PM Johnson’s spokesperson says ‘no decisions about the Board of Trade have been made’.
However Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Abbott was ‘not the kind of person who should be a trade envoy for the UK’.
She added that ethics do relate to how countries trade and added:
‘If I had anything to do with that decision he wouldn’t be a trade envoy for the United Kingdom.’
Notably LGBT+ lawyers and human rights experts have expressed concern that Brexit may lead Britain to trade with countries with bad LGBT+ and human rights records.
Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves also attacked Abbott.
She told Sky News: ‘I don’t think he should be doing that job. I think your description of him as a misogynistic homophobe is an accurate one.’
‘It’s your choice to wear the rainbow badge, Matt Hancock’
Meanwhile Hancock’s decision to wear the NHS rainbow badge – which he has done often throughout the coronavirus crisis – sparked new controversy.
During the pandemic, the UK has adopted the rainbow to show support for all NHS and care workers. However, the badge Hancock was wearing pre-dates that and is specifically about LGBT+ inclusion in the National Health Service.
The Twitter account of the badge’s creators, @RainbowNHSBadge, said:
‘Tony Abbott said homosexuality “challenges the right order of things” and campaigned against equal marriage.
‘It’s your choice to wear @rainbownhsbadge @MattHancock.
‘Please only continue to wear it if you actually believe in what it stands for.’
Shortly after, they added that ‘@MattHancock is completely aware of what @RainbowNHSBadge project is about, and that choosing to wear it recognises a responsibility to advocate for LGBT+ people.
‘His interview this morning suggests his wearing it is lip service at best.’
Published on GayStarNews Read the original article
Author: Tris Reid-Smith