Protesters bring their rainbow flags to the office of Senator Eric Abetz

Protesters have voiced their displeasure about recent comments Liberal Senator Eric Abetz made about rainbow flags by staging a peaceful demonstration outside his Tasmanian office.

The Wednesday night protest came in the wake of comments from Senator Abetz declaring the Rainbow Flag the symbol of a “political cause” and questioning whether it should be flown from Federal Government buildings.

The comments follow the Australian Christian Lobby launching a new campaign that calls for the rainbow flag to be banned from public buildings.

Tasmanian LGBTI equality advocate, Andrew Badcock, said Senator Abetz should understand that there is nothing to fear from rainbow flags.

“The protest sent a message to Senator Abetz and the rest of the community that the Rainbow Flag symbolises safety and acceptance for LGBTI people, and there is nothing to fear from it.”

“The rainbow flag is an important image that gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and intersex people are welcome and safe, so it’s very telling that Eric Abetz is against an image that shows government is a safe space for LGBTI Australians.” Badcock said.

The equality advocate said the senator should reconsider his priorities.

“Maybe it’s time to ask whether Tasmania needs a new senator who doesn’t spend so much taxpayers’ money trying to keep rights away from vulnerable minority groups, and instead looks to protect all Tasmanians.”

During a senate estimates hearing earlier this week the Tasmanian senator, who is a leading campaigner in the fight to stop marriage equality in Australia, quizzed officials from the Department of Finance about the protocols for flying a rainbow flag within a government building.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Senator Abetz said he had heard reports of the rainbow flag, which is a symbol of the gay and lesbian community, being displayed within the foyer of the Department of Finance.

Seantor Abetz said because some employees of the Department of Finance may be opposed to marriage equality it was only proper that an equal opportunity be given to a group arguing for the marriage laws to remain in their current state.

“To cut to the chase, there was the rainbow flag on display in the lobby which, believe it or not, some people see as an activist flag for a particular cause in relation to an issue of whether or not we should change the legislation on marriage and some people of course support that cause, others don’t.

“If that is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally,” Senator Abetz said.

The Marriage Alliance is a group campaign for marriage to be limited to heterosexual relationships. They also campaign against the Safe Schools anti-bulling program and transgender rights.

The group caused controversy when they released a campaign featuring a woman with a rainbow noose around her neck, and launched a Father’s Day campaign filled with dubious claims.

Senator Abetz demanded to know who had permitted the rainbow flag to be flown within the Finance department.

“If you allow one side of the debate, then you need to allow the other side and that is why I sought to determine upfront who is responsible for making these determinations.”

The Senator then went on to describe the flag as the symbol of a “hostile nation”.

“This particular flag, you will realise, is the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, that declared war on Australia and you Senator Cormann would understand they did the same as Prince Leonard of Hutt River Province and now this is their official flag,” Senator Abetz said, making a ‘tongue in cheek’ comment.

“Of course, it is the flag of a hostile nation if we are to believe them, having declared war on Australia. I dare say that wasn’t the reason it was flown…” Abetz said.

The comments are in relation to a long forgotten political stunt held back in 2004. In response to Australia’s ban on same sex marriage a tiny uninhabited island in the coral sea was proclaimed The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea. Activist Dale Parker Anderson was proclaimed the Emperor of the protest nation.

The protesters then declared war on Australia. They also chose Handel’s Zadok the Priest as their national anthem and released some colorful postage stamps.

The nation claims to be 100% homosexual and their main camp is named Heaven after the famous queer nightclub in London.

Find out more about the queer nation we’re at war with on their website.

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