RIVERINA MP Michael McCormack has been forced to issue a new apology over a homophobic tirade he unleashed as editor of The Daily Advertiser in 1993.
Equality advocates have taken aim at the Small Business Minister as he prepares to oversee a postal vote on same-sex marriage.
Mr McCormack demonised homosexuals in the highly controversial column, describing their activities as "sordid" and blaming gay people for the AIDS epidemic.
On Friday, Mr McCormack said his views had "changed quite significantly" since he penned the editorial.
"I have grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique," he said.
"I apologised wholeheartedly for the comments at the time and many times since, but I am making this statement to unreservedly apologise again today."
Mr McCormack – also responsible for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – has been chastised for his past comments.
In the piece, “from the editor's desk”, in 1993, he said:
“A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don't become further entrenched in society,” he wrote.
"Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn't wipe out humanity, they're here to stay.
“How can these people call for rights when they’re responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man – AIDS.”
Openly-gay Greens campaigner Ray Goodlass questioned the ethics of Mr McCormack’s involvement in the upcoming plebiscite.
He argued Mr McCormack should be closely monitored in the coming months, given he once espoused such “strong, dangerous” views.
“We’ll be watching him to make sure he acts in a completely ethical, hands-off manner,” Mr Goodlass said.
“We know him and we know his history and beliefs, so we’re a bit worried about it.”
When questioned whether Mr McCormack was homophobic, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne shot back: “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him.”
He claimed the Riverina MP is not directly responsible for the postal vote.
After being reminded Mr McCormack was responsible for the ABS – which over-arches the vote – he admitted the remarks were “unacceptable”.
EXCERPT FROM MICHAEL MCCORMACK’S CONTROVERSIAL COLUMN, THE DAILY ADVERTISER, MAY 1, 1993
A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society.
Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.
On Monday hundreds of thousands of homosexuals marched through Washington in a demonstration intended to show their demands for equal rights and an end to discrimination should no longer be ignored or denied.
How can these people call for rights when they’re responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome?
AIDS shows no discrimination.
It claims thousands upon thousands of innocent people’s lives every year.
On the very night of the homosexuals’ march that pompous critic Stuart Littlemore on Media Watch on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation had the gall to criticise various newspaper editors across Australia for “gay bashing”.
He ridiculed them for showing some moral backbone and condemning homosexuality.
It’s just as well some newspapers are speaking up and acting as watchdogs on moral issues. If it was left up to the likes of Littlemore, heaven knows some of the all-embracing attitudes society would be told it was OK to accept.