• Eric Abetz and the rainbow flag (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
"If [the flag] is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally," Abetz said.
Sam Carroll

28 Feb 2017 - 3:48 PM  UPDATED 28 Feb 2017 - 3:48 PM

A renowned opponent of same-sex marriage, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has questioned the reasoning for a rainbow flag being displayed within the Department of Finance.

The former Minister for Employment used a Senate meeting on Tuesday to question the rules that exist for the flying of flags within government buildings, baffling civil servants present at the hearing.

Mr Abetz proposed the flag might agitate staff working within the department, while suggesting that groups opposed to same-sex marriage should share the right to display their own banner.

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"To cut to the chase, there was the rainbow flag on display in the lobby which, believe it or not, some people see as an activist flag for a particular cause in relation to an issue of whether or not we should change the legislation on marriage and some people of course support that cause, others don't," Abetz said.

"If that is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally." he said.

Abetz then referenced the use of the flag by the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, founded in 2004 after a group of LGBTI activists protested against the refusal of the Australian government to acknowledge same-sex marriages, claiming a set of islands in the Great Barrier Reef while declaring independence from Australian sovereignty. 

"This particular flag, you will realise, is the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, that declared war on Australia... and now this is their official flag," Abetz continued.

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"Of course, it is the flag of a hostile nation if we are to believe them, having declared war on Australia - I dare say that wasn't the reason it was flown."

Officials stated the issue would be discussed during a meeting in the future by the department's executive board.

Abetz came under fire in October 2016 after making bizarre comments about the media discriminating against people who "come out of the closet" as heterosexual in a report by Fairfax.

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