A pro-gay marriage candidate has been asked to resign from Bob Katter’s Australia Party because of his views.
The 29-year-old composer and theatre director, Steven Bailey, told Fairfax Media that the party’s national director, Aidan McLindon, called him on Friday morning and asked him to reconsider both his position on gay marriage and his candidacy.
Mr Katter had endorsed Mr Bailey to run for one of the two Senate seats in the ACT.
''I won’t be stepping down,'' Mr Bailey said. ''It’s a decision the party has to make.''
Mr McLindon confirmed he had instructed Mr Bailey to resign.
‘‘I was directed by the president to call Steven Bailey this morning to ask if he could step down of his own accord given that his position on marriage was in direct conflict with the Katter Australia Party’s core values and principles.''
Mr Katter’s endorsement of a pro-gay marriage candidate had angered some within the party who thought he had abandoned his commitment to family values.
The party’s platform states that marriage is between a man and a woman.
The former national secretary, Bernard Gaynor, said that ''numerous members'' of Katter’s Australia Party had contacted him on Thursday saying they had resigned because of Mr Bailey’s appointment.
''Bob [Katter] has been unwilling to stand by the party’s values,’’ he said. ‘‘I have always known Bob to be violently opposed to gay marriage’’.
Mr Gaynor was suspended from the party last month after he tweeted that he would not let gay people teach his children.
Mr Bailey said he would not renege on his beliefs even if it would be politically wise for him to do so.
''The Australian public would not believe me if I changed my position on this in the next 24 hours.''
Mr Bailey maintained that the ‘‘thrust’’ of Mr Katter’s party was ''good''.
''If we are going to be a party for the whole of Australia we need to have these debates,'' he said.
Mr Bailey was introduced to Mr Katter through a mutual friend and the two met for the first time last September at Parliament House, he said.
A one hour meeting turned into a five hour discussion and lunch. The meeting and others since had convinced Mr Bailey that Katter’s Australia Party was open-minded enough to accommodate young people with diverse views.
Asked if he had joined Katter's party to strike a blow for gay rights and if he was a member of any lobby or activist group, Mr Bailey replied: "Absolutely not. I just said what I said to be honest with the Australian public. It's not my intention to campaign for gay rights.''
Another candidate for Katter’s Australia Party, Tess Corbett, withdrew her nomination recently for the federal seat of Wannon in Victoria after she claimed that paedophiles would be ''next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights''.
with Daniel Hurst