McCormack blames AIDS awareness campaign for homophobic views

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the ‘Grim Reaper’ AIDS awareness campaign of the 1980’s lead to him writing homophobic columns in the 1990’s.

Since being elevated to the position of Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister, attention has been given to a series of columns McCormack wrote when he was the editor of his local paper in Wagga Wagga.

In McCormack’s most highlighted editorial piece he said; “a week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society” and “Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”

The following week he responded to criticism that his views were homophobic by declaring that he had no problem being described as such.

“I have no pangs of guilt for telling the truth about what gays are doing to the world and the decent people who live in it,” he wrote. “I’ve been labelled homophobic by some of the many people who have been moved to write letters.

“Well if homophobic can be taken as an intense fear of homosexuals then that’s fine, call me homophobic … If something isn’t done and done quickly to prevent homosexuals getting rights they don’t deserve then God help us.”

In other editorial pieces McCormack argued against anti-vilification laws on the basis of sexuality and promoted the idea that all prisoners should be forced to undertake HIV tests.

While McCormack has repeatedly apologised for the columns and said that his views have “evolved”, this week he told Sky News the well known ‘Grim Reaper’ campaign about AIDS awareness was one of the reasons for his previous views about LGBTI  people and HIV.

“I think society was different then, we were also under a huge and intense advertising campaign with the Grim Reaper bowling balls; there was a rise in AIDS and the concern around that,” McCormack said.

“Words hurt, words last and I apologise for that, when the same-sex marriage vote came to the parliament in the debate I apologised again, no one asked me to but I did, I thought it was right and proper to do so.”

The advertising campaign which aired in 1987 has been credited with making a major impact on HIV in Australia, but has also been criticised for creating a long lasting stigma towards people living with HIV. Many people assumed the Grim Reaper was a representation of gay men carrying the virus.

OIP Staff

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