Sydney’s 39th annual Mardi Gras parade was another roaring success on Saturday with up to 300,000 people taking part in the celebration which puts a spotlight on LGBTIQ rights in Australia.
And despite marriage equality being an issue at the forefront of many of the marchers' minds, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has suggested it's a niche issue.
On Friday, just the day before hundreds of thousands braved the rain to celebrate Mardi Gras, Joyce told Buzzfeed’s political podcast that the gay people he knows are generally “living a pretty cruisy lifestyle,” and his focus is on those who aren’t doing so well.
“When I am talking to my gay mates, I generally find two blokes who are generally on very good incomes, very good incomes, very good jobs, living a pretty cruisy lifestyle,” Joyce said. “Good luck and God bless them.
“But right at the top of my priorities is the person living in a shed who’s doing it tough.”
Earlier this year, a Liberal front bencher told The Australian that Joyce had ordered ministers to stop talking about “issues which only appeal to people in George Street and Oxford Street” and “then specifically raised gay marriage as an example.”
In his interview with Buzzfeed, the Deputy Prime Minister also compares the importance of marriage equality to Liberal backbenchers propensity to repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“The left say… Barnaby should talk more about gay marriage. The right want me to talk about 18C. And I’m saying, ‘Mate, in your spare time. Let’s just focus on the things that get people more money, a better health system, a better prospect of a job, concentrate on that’.”
Polls have determined that seven in ten Australian voters want a change in the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couple to wed, while the CraCR poll has shown that 75% of Australians are opposed to people having the freedom to “insult” and “offend” people on the basis of race, culture or religion - which is what an amendment to 18C would achieve.
Another Liberal party member, Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, has told Sky News that her party’s controversial plebescite on same-sex marriage could still happen.
"I believe it's a fundamental tenet of the Liberal party to have a free vote," she said.
"My view is that this is a change we should make, I'm certainly someone that will advocate strongly for a change."
However, she said it "isn't as clear cut as simply saying [the plebescite] isn't happening."
"Well let's see if the plebiscite is in fact dead."
The Prime Minister was notably absent from the Mardi Gras on the weekend, despite its proximity to his Wentworth electorate, while Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten marched alongside his deputy Tanya Plibersek and Greens leader Richard Di Natale.