Politics

A Young, Gay Bullying Victim Ripped An LNP Senator A New One Over His “Grow A Spine” Remarks

"Isn't the role of leadership to support society's most vulnerable, rather than kick them while they're down in hopes of some political point scoring?”

A young gay man who says he experienced years of bullying as a result of his sexuality hit out at Liberal National senator Matthew Canavan on last night’s episode of Q&A, accusing the former cabinet minister and his conservative colleagues of kicking the LGBTIQ+ community while it was down.

Canavan has been among the most outspoken members of the LNP calling for people to vote No in the marriage equality survey, and made headlines last month when he said people involved in the debate needed to “grow a spine” and stop being “delicate little flowers”.

On Monday night, Canavan was confronted by the Q&A audience member, who shared details of the horrific abuse he faced while in school.

“I endured slurs on a daily basis, was spat upon by more aggressive bullies and found countless notes stuck in my locker, decrying me as bringing shame to my family or being riddled with AIDS and telling me that I was wasting my life,” said the audience member. “I was also told that I was threat to children and that being gay was no better than being a paedophile.”

“Now you, Mr Canavan, have criticised my community as being delicate little flowers who need to grow a spine in the face of abuse. Isn’t the role of leadership to support society’s most vulnerable, rather than kick them while they’re down in hopes of some political point scoring?”

Canavan defended his “delicate flowers” remark, insisting that he was referring to people on both sides of the debate.

“I am very worried about the fact that we are struggling, I think in a modern democracy, to respect other people’s opinions,” he said. “Living in a democracy means that sometimes you’re going to meet people and hear from people that you disagree with.”

“I think there’s delicate little flowers on both sides who can’t seem to just be able to accept [that] some people have a different view.”

But Canavan’s comments didn’t hold much sway with the questioner, who went on to ask why we needed to conduct the postal survey – rather than a parliamentary vote – in the first place.

“We’ve lived in a democracy for more than a hundred years,” he said. “Why does this one ‘debate’ as you call it… need a different brand of democracy to any other law that we’ve ever passed?”

You can watch the entire exchange below.