By political reporter Francis Keany
The Tasmanian senator was involved in a heated debate on Macquarie Radio in Sydney yesterday about same-sex marriage.
He was asked about reports bakeries were refusing to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples and whether it would be just as bad if the couple were Asian.
“Those sorts of analogies are quite offensive and that sort of analogy was completely debunked by Justice Clarence Thomas, the negro American on the Supreme Court of the United States dealing with this issue, who dissented on the issue of marriage as well,” Senator Abetz told Radio 2UE.
Justice Thomas is an African-American Justice of the US Supreme Court who criticised a decision to invalidate state-based same-sex marriage bans in June.
Race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said it was “disappointing” that such language would be used in public debate.
“Most fair-minded people would recognise that ‘negro’ is an outdated term that is inappropriate and racially loaded,” he said.
Mr Soutphommasane said it was a racial slur, even if the senator was not meaning to insult Justice Thomas.
“This is the modern reality of racism,” he said.
“You can cause harm, even if you don’t intend to cause harm or even if you’re not motivated by malice.