Apr 182012
Restaurant staff remove the protesters

When Tony Abbott’s dinner was interrupted by gay marriage activists, he was not amused.

The Opposition Leader was dining on Melbourne’s Lygon Street on Sunday night with The Australian newspaper’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan when a small group of protesters entered the restaurant and surrounded Mr Abbott’s table.

It is understood the group of about six protesters chanted: “Tony Abbott, you’re a bigot, gay marriage you don’t dig it,” before being removed from the restaurant by a staff member.

Equal Love convenor Ali Hogg, who organised the protest, said she was tipped off about Mr Abbott’s location by another diner in the restaurant.

“We took the opportunity to give him a piece of our mind,” she told the National Times this morning.

According to Ms Hogg, Mr Abbott smirked at the protesters and said, “I think you’ve made your point. I think you should leave now.”

Outside the restaurant, the group held up posters advertising a marriage equality rally and banged on the restaurant’s windows while chanting: “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right.”

Ms Hogg said that some passers-by joined in the protest and that restaurant staff members made a makeshift petition supporting gay marriage and presented it to the Opposition Leader.

This morning, Mr Abbott confirmed the incident and denied that he himself had been asked the leave the restaurant.

But he did not appear to be impressed that his dinner had been interrupted by protesters.

“I think people should be able to enjoy a quiet meal with a friend on a Sunday night in Lygon Street,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Melbourne.

Ms Hogg, who has been campaigning for marriage equality since 2004, said that Mr Abbott’s views on gay marriage often go unchallenged.

“Our dinners get interrupted by his bigotry over the airwaves too often,” she said.

Earlier this month, same-sex marriage activists were hopeful that Mr Abbott would change his anti-gay marriage stance when his sister Christine Forster publicly confirmed she was gay.

Mr Abbott praised his sister’s bravery for coming out but said it would not change his view.

Judith Ireland


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