Tony Abbott ‘headbutted’ by man wearing ‘vote yes’ badge

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told the media that he was attacked and violently assaulted by a man wearing a badge supporting same-sex marriage.

Abbott was leaving a private function in Hobart when he was approached by a man who asked to shake his hand, the MP said the man then headbutted him giving him a very slightly swollen lip.

The prominent member of the NO campaign against marriage equality told Macquarie Radio that the man who attacked him was wearing a ‘Vote Yes’ badge.

“I turned around, there was a chap wearing a Vote Yes badge, he says ‘I wanna shake your hand’, I went over to shake his hand and then he headbutted me,” Abbott said.

“He wasn’t very good at it, I’ve got to say, but he did make contact. The only damage was a very, very slightly swollen lip.

“I was with a member of my staff, [who] briefly grappled with this guy and then he ran off swearing his head off, basically.

“It was just a reminder of how ugly this debate is getting.” Abbott said.

“And the ugliness is not coming from the defenders of marriage as it’s always been understood — the ugliness, the intolerance and indeed in this instance, the hint of violence, is coming from those who tell us in the name of decency and fairmindedness and freedom, we’ve got to allow same-sex marriage.

“The love is love brigade aren’t showing a lot of love.”

Abbott told the radio station that the alleged assault was clearly politically motivated violence.

The former PM suggested that the incident was an indicator that if same-sex marriage was allowed there would be increased intolerance and bullying of people who held different views.

“If the actual debate about same-sex marriage is producing this kind of intolerance and bullying, how much worse would it get if the brave new world of same-sex marriage actually came to be?” Abbott said.

The incident has been widely condemned by prominent Australians on both side of the debate.

Alex Greenwich, the co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality said there was never any place for violence or abuse and condemned the attack.

“Marriage equality is about respect and dignity for every Australian. There is no room for any disrespect either physical or verbal in this national debate,” Greenwich said.

The Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young posted “Marriage equality is about love, respect and dignity. Violence has no place in the debate.”

While Western Australian MP Stephen Dawson tweeted, “Violence is never OK! Let’s win the argument fairly.”

Sally Rugg from GetUp! described any violence in the campaign as abhorent; “SSM is about love and dignity. All violence happening during this plebiscite is abhorrent, including alleged assault on Tony Abbott tonight.”

Tiernan Brady from the Equality Campaign tweeted, “Let’s be clear, #marriageequality is about respect. There is no room for disrespect verbal or physical from any side in this journey.”

Labor MP Penny Wong posted “Ours is a campaign of hope, respect and unity. Our actions should reflect that. Violence is never acceptable.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also condemned the incident, “This is terrible – violence like this is never acceptable. I’m glad Mr Abbott isn’t seriously injured and I’ve rung him to say so.”

OIP Staff

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