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Senator praises Australian Ambassador to Sweden after he introduces his male partner to the Queen of Denmark; anti-gay rights campaigner wants ambassador recalled.



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PETER CAVE: Now, to the queen who met the queen. It's Mardi Gras weekend in Sydney but in far off Sweden, the cause of Australian gay pride has quietly taken a large step forward. Our Ambassador to Sweden, Stephen Brady, has presented his homosexual partner to the Danish queen.

 

Anne Barker reports on this historic step by an Australian envoy.

 

ANNE BARKER: Denmark's Queen Margrethe did not bat an eyelid when Australia's Ambassador, Stephen Brady, took his same sex partner, Peter Stephens, to an official function at Copenhagen's royal palace. Sweden's tabloid newspaper, Ekstra Bladet , has described Mr Brady's bold actions as a precedent; the first time a diplomat has introduced a gay partner to the queen.

 

Denmark has among the most liberal laws in the world on homosexuality, allowing civil marriages between same-sex partners. And on the eve of tomorrow's Mardi Gras parade in Sydney, Mr Brady is the latest hero among Australia's gay community. The Green senator Bob Brown, who doesn't hide the fact he is gay, says Mr Brady's courage sends a message back home.

 

BOB BROWN: It's a great statement of equality by Stephen Bradley (sic). It means that the equality which the Scandinavians have taken aboard, much more than the Australian government, is being expressed by an Australian on the other side of the world - a  breakthrough in diplomatic circles but an excellent thing for the gay and lesbian community right around the world.

 

ANNE BARKER: But the ultraconservative New South Wales MP and anti gay rights campaigner, Fred Nile, is predictably outraged.

 

FRED NILE: Well, I think it's a disgrace and I hope the Prime Minister will take action over this and remove him as our ambassador. I believe it has insulted our nation.

 

ANNE BARKER: You think he should be recalled?

 

FRED NILE: I definitely do.

 

ANNE BARKER: Why?

 

FRED NILE: Well, same-sex partners should not be recognised, and this action is an attempt to try to give some sort of official recognition to those relationships. And Australia has actually rejected that up to now - both the New South Wales parliament and in the federal parliament.

 

ANNE BARKER: You've prayed for rain to spoil every year's Mardi Gras parade. Have you got your umbrella ready for tomorrow?

 

FRED NILE: Yes, I am carrying my umbrella, and I've been praying, and I did hear the weather forecast saying there would be heavy rain at least up to Friday, so I hope it doesn't stop on Friday - today - and we still get the rain on the weekend.

 

PETER CAVE: Morals crusader, the Reverend Fred Nile.