Jim Wallace, the head of the Australian
Christian Lobby (ACL), has defended remarks comparing smoking health
risks with being gay.
Wallace made the remarks in the course
of debating gay marriage with Greens leader Christine Milen on
“I think we're going to owe smokers a
big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its
health – which it presents when it wants more money for health –
are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the
life of a male reduced by up to 20 years,” Wallace said.
“The life of smokers is reduced by
something like 7 to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school
they shouldn't smoke.”
Senator Milne noted that “the mental
health issues for young gay people particularly are certainly
increased when discrimination occurs.”
After the debate, Wallace claimed he
had been misquoted.
But in an interview with the Australian
Broadcasting Company (ABC), Wallace repeated his claims.
“[T]oday you've been complaining that
you've been misquoted and taken out of context but in this
conversation you are clearly once again linking the health effects of
smoking to what you see as the detrimental health effects of being
“No, no I'm not,” Wallace
“Do you really think that a gay
person will have their life cut short because of their sexual
“Well because of the prevalence of
disease, the worst outcomes of gay people, yes, of course, that's a
very high likelihood,” he
said. “And anybody who looks at the statistics can't deny
that.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
Wallace's comments prompted Prime
Minister Julia Gillard to cancel her plans to speak at the Christian
Lobby's national conference next month.