Last week, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister (basically the country’s Vice President), Barnaby Joyce resigned over sexual harassment allegations. Since Joyce was a member of Australia’s National Party, the National Party got to elect his replacement. Sadly, they elected Michael McCormack, a man who wrote a 1993 column stating that gay people’s “sordid behavior” and “unnatural acts” are “responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man,” meaning AIDS. He has since apologized for the Michael McCormack AIDS column.
In 1993, when McCormack served as editor of The Daily Advertiser, a local paper in New South Wales, Australia, McCormack wrote an editorial that said, “A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behavior don’t become further entrenched in society. Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”
Later, when discussing the historic April 25, 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, McCormack asked, “How can these people call for rights when they’re responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome?”
Granted, McCormack was hardly alone is his demonizing and scapegoating gay people as somehow responsible for the HIV epidemic when the U.S. government failed to acknowledge the disease in even the slightest way (and even laughed off mentions of the disease in press conferences) for fear of appearing “pro-gay.” But that’s hardly an excuse.
His homophobic editorial actually resurfaced in 2017 during the run-up to Australia’s marriage plebiscite, but they’ve resurfaced now that McCormack has become Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister.
He has since apologized for the editorial, stating, “I have grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique.”
McCormack also voted to legalize same-sex marriage in Parliament last year, but LGBTQ voters will watch to see whether he continues advocating for LGBTQ rights in his new role.