Penny Wong

A lesbian Australian cabinet member has been accused of betraying the gay community by supporting the government’s stand against same-sex marriage.

Senator Penny Wong, who is the Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, appeared on Australian television where she defended the government’s stance on same-sex marriage.

“I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect,” she said on Channel 10 on Saturday.

Speaking again on ABC, she added: “I accept that you and others in the community would like us to have a different position in terms of marriage. That isn’t the position of the party.

“I have a view — you join a team, you’re part of a team and that’s the way we operate. People sometimes like that and sometimes they don’t.”

Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson, Alex Greenwich, said Senator Wong’s rationale for opposing marriage equality is deeply hypocritical.

“It was once the ‘cultural, religious and historical view’ that women should not be members of parliament, Asians should not be allowed into Australia, and lesbians shouldn’t even exist, yet thankfully all that changed allowing people like Penny Wong to contribute to Australian society at the highest level,” said Greenwich.

“By opposing marriage equality, Penny Wong has betrayed gay and lesbian Australians, and by using culture, religion and history to justify this opposition she has betrayed the principles of tolerance and inclusion that have given her immense opportunities as a lesbian woman of Chinese descent.”

Wong is the first openly gay member of the Australian Commonwealth cabinet, and the first Asian-born federal minister.

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