Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday said that “it's okay to be gay,” but added that he remains opposed to marriage equality.

During a radio appearance, Abbott was asked whether he had seen a video by Lachlan Beaton, who says that he kept his sexuality hidden for 12 years because he felt it was wrong to be gay.

Abbott answered that he had not seen the video but was aware of its content.

“[W]hat this gentleman wants is someone to say that it's okay to be gay and look, I'm happy to say that,” Abbott said. “I'm very happy to say that.”

Earlier this month, Abbott's decision not to allow a free vote on the issue effectively doomed a proposed gay marriage bill. Abbott promised to hold a public vote on legalizing such unions if his government is re-elected next year. Critics, however, point out that such votes are not binding.

“I take the traditional position that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Abbott said Monday, adding later that he would accept “wholeheartedly” the people's decision if they voted to support such unions.

“So I'm not saying that change is out of the question, I'm just saying that if there is to be change, it should be change that's owned by the people, not just by the parliament,” he said.