A Family First Senate candidate who equated gay child rearing with child abuse has issued an apology, as her comments are being investigated by anti-discrimination bodies in three separate states.
Wendy Francis, who is running for the Senate for Queensland, says she takes responsibility for the comments that someone from her office tweeted on her behalf and has posted an extensive apology on her website.
The lengthy statement also includes a swipe at media, saying sensationalist headlines have distorted the truth of both what was said and her actual views.
“Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse,” the Twitter message, which has since been deleted, said.
Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne, who has a three-year-old with her same-sex partner, has lodged complaints against the comments in Queensland, NSW and Tasmania.
She called on Family First to take Ms Francis off the Senate ticket.
“The real danger to my child, and other children raised by same-sex couples, is from the bigotry and hatred stirred up by people like Wendy Francis,” she said.
“If they are genuine about protecting families and doing what’s best for Australian families … they should disendorse Wendy Francis for her extreme views.
“It’s not OK to equate same-sex parenting with child abuse, which is essentially what she has done.”
Ms Pilgrim-Byrne, who is based in Perth, could not make a complaint in her home state of WA because the alleged discrimination originated in Queensland.
She also extended an invitation for Ms Francis to have dinner with her family.
“I would be delighted for Wendy Francis to come and have dinner with us,” she said.
“She needs to educate herself … credible research shows children raised by same-sex couples have the same levels of emotional, intellectual, social and sexual adjustment as their peers.”
Ms Francis told AAP she would not stand down and had not been contacted by Family First over the comments.
“My comments were certainly not against gays and weren’t in any way a gay slur,” she said.
“I’m not a hateful person … I regret having caused any hurt.
“I’m disappointed the remarks were taken as hateful. I wasn’t the one who put that Twitter comment up, it was someone else from our office.
“I believe it’s one thing to be homosexual but I think it’s another thing altogether to impose on children a situation where they’ll be brought up without a mother or a father.”
Ms Francis said she had changed her password and had spoken to the person who had posted her “paraphrased” comments on Twitter.
“I’m hoping this blows over,” she said.
She said she would be prepared to take up Ms Pilgrim-Byrne’s dinner invitation.
“I certainly would,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be able to afford to get to Perth, but if I was ever there I would be happy to meet with them.”
Family First federal chairman Bob Day told AAP the party stood by the candidate.
“They are not the views of Wendy Francis, they are not Family First policy and the person who placed the comments has been counselled,” he said.
“The comments have been withdrawn.”