Australian Prime Minister Who Opposed Gay Marriage Attends His Lesbian Sister’s Wedding

Tony Abbott, who once claimed "the relationship between two people of the same sex cannot be a marriage," said he was "looking forward to having a new sister-in-law."

Why let a little thing like civil liberties get between siblings?

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott attended the wedding of his sister Christine Forster to girlfriend Virginia Flitcroft on Friday, just weeks after the country legalized same-sex marriage.


A post shared by Councillor Christine Forster (@crchristineforster) on

“Great family occasion. Very happy for Chris and Virginia,” Abbott told reporters on the way to the Sydney ceremony. I’m looking forward to having a new sister-in-law.”

But in his time leading the country, Abbott vehemently opposed marriage equality.

“However deeply affectionate or long lasting it may be, the relationship between two people of the same sex cannot be a marriage because a marriage, by definition, is between a man and a woman,” he insisted. “Let’s celebrate all strong relationships, whether they are between a man and a woman or between people of the same sex—but let’s be careful about describing every lasting sexual bond as a ’marriage’.”

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The former Liberal Party leader was ousted in 2015, but not before deciding the marriage question should be put to a national referendum rather than a parliamentary vote. Abbott argued it was to spare lawmakers an ugly debate, but critics claimed he expected the vote to go against the LGBT community.

Instead, 62% of Australians voted in favor of equal marriage, with Parliament overwhelmingly passing legislation in December. The first same-sex weddings were held January 9.

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Abbott and Forster were vocal opponents during the plebiscite, with the former PM telling people to vote no, “because voting no will help to stop political correctness in its tracks.” But Abbott insisted he would attend her wedding if the marriage ban was lifted. Forster, a member of the Sydney municipal council, said it was presumptuous of him to assume he’d be invited.

But she relented, and on Friday said her brother had been “fabulous” about the wedding.

“In fact, he is the first person to ring us this morning to check in that everything was going smoothly and that there hadn’t been any last-minute hitches,” she told Ten Network.

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Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.