Wagga’s same-sex marriage advocates say the Riverina MP’s apology “doesn’t change anything”.
It follows the homophobic column Michael McCormack wrote and published when he was the editor of The Daily Advertiser in 1993.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics minister last week apologised “wholeheartedly for the comments” and said he had “changed quite significantly”.
But Rainbow Riverina member Sarah Adcock said it didn’t fix the hurt that was inflicted on gay and lesbian couples at the time.
“I’m taking it at face value,” Ms Adcock said. “But it doesn’t take away the legacy of that hurt.”
The Wagga-based contemporary jeweller said she was sure many Riverina residents wanted to “throw the apology in his face”.
It comes ahead of the Coalition’s proposed postal vote that will determine if same-sex couples can legally marry.
Residents who are not registered with the Australian Electoral Commission have two weeks to do so, before the poll is sent out.
“The postal opinion poll is the perfect storm,” Ms Adcock said.
“It’s a poorly managed process from the get go.”
She said Mr McCormack would oversee the ABS-run plebiscite, which would also be voluntary and unbinding.
“A stupid poll is being managed badly by people who don’t have a positive legacy in this space,” Ms Adcock said.
“(Mr McCormack) has this in his background.”
She said “sorry” didn’t take back his words – demonising homosexuality – and would not change the pain they inflicted.
Wagga peace activist Ray Goodlass said the apology may be genuine, but the sincerity of the apology would come from action, not words.
“A lot of people are still upset,” Mr Goodlass said.
“An apology doesn’t put all that back together.”
The Riverina Greens secretary said Mr McCormack’s vote in parliament would be “a clear signal the apology was genuine”.
“You can never tell how much damage the original statement did,” he said.
“But at least a vote in favour means he means it.”
Mr McCormack, who was attending to ministerial duties in Western Australia on Saturday, said he would not comment any further.