Tony Abbott jets to US to address anti-gay movement
Fresh from giving new hope to disaffected conservative Liberals by staying in federal politics, Tony Abbott will fly to the US to gee-up one of the religious right's most reactionary anti-gay group — the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Mr Abbott, who is being accompanied by wife Margie, will give a speech on the topic of "the importance of family" to the pro-Christian, Republican-aligned lobby, which opposes abortion, wants to end gay marriage and is pushing to roll back some feminist advances.
The speech comes as the primary race for the presidential nomination approaches fever pitch, with contenders on the Republican side scrambling to secure the overwhelmingly Christian "Tea Party" base.
The Alliance Defending Freedom's founding president, Alan Sears, is a regular conservative voice on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel and co-authored the 2003 book, The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Liberty Today.
With Craig Osten, Sears argued that America's growing tolerance of homosexuality was being achieved through the indoctrination of children, tacit support of corporate America, and through "positive" television depictions of alternative family structures.
The ADF has attracted trenchant criticism from the left for opposing "tolerance training" for schools aimed at reducing bullying of LGBTI students. Instead, it proposed "truth days", in which homosexual behaviour was openly discussed as sinful.
Announcing his intention to contest the 2016 election, Mr Abbott said he wanted to focus on "transport issues" in his Sydney electorate
But Mr Abbott's US address will add to his post-leadership record of spruiking conservative values and right-of-centre policies to like-minded groups abroad. It will also further burnish his credentials as Australia's pre-eminent social conservative, in sharp distinction with the middle-ground of Australian politics, and with that of his replacement, the pro-marriage equality, pro-environment Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Abbott's direct links with the organisation will be seen as a powerful statement of difference from Mr Turnbull who pointedly spoke with the more moderate Republican presidential hopeful, Marco Rubio recently - who is pro-free trade - rather than the two contenders ahead of Mr Rubio, Ted Cruz and the favourite, the ultra-conservative, Donald Trump.
Mr Abbott's program in the US is understood to include a number of other appointments, however his office denied a suggestion that that he was scheduled to canvass a planned comeback with Rupert Murdoch and/or his New York Post editor, Col Allan. News Corp has since confirmed a meeting with Mr Murdoch is expected to proceed while the former prime minister is in New York.
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