A chuckle shared by LNP ministers in Parliament at the expense of gay nightclub The Beat was "schoolboyish and immature", says an advocate for Queensland's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced on Thursday he and Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney would visit the Brisbane nightclub, which is popular among gay people, after Brisbane Central MP Rob Cavallucci extended an invitation for a tour.
Mr Bleijie, who has previously raised the ire of the gay community by championing moves to water down civil union laws and ban same-sex couples from accessing surrogacy, made the comment during discussion about the government's decision to extend Fortitude Valley's drink-safe precinct and review liquor licensing laws.
“The member for Brisbane Central, with his particular interest, has invited the Deputy Premier and I to a club in his electorate, The Beat,” Mr Bleijie told Parliament.
“The Deputy Premier and I are looking forward to going there on a bit of a tour. We will probably try to organise that,” he said, prompting interjections from his colleagues.
Mid chuckle, Mr Bleijie said: "I am reliably informed that the Deputy Premier already knows where The Beat is."
“He is a visitor there."
- Click here for video of the Mr Bleijie in Parliament.
But Paul Martin, executive director of the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, did not see the humour in Mr Bleijie's remarks.
"It's a bit schoolboyish, having a bit of a giggle because you're going to go to a gay venue. I know not all members of Parliament think that," he said.
"We're glad that members of the Parliament found the mere thought of visiting the gay nightclub The Beat so amusing, but LGBT Queenslanders aren't laughing, we're hurting.
"At a time when the government is doing so much harm to the LGBT community, laughing about merely stepping inside a gay venue is insulting and insensitive.
"Our only LGBT health service has been defunded, our relationships have been denigrated to the level of registering a pet, the right to form a family by surrogacy may be taken away, and murderers can still get off on a lighter sentence by pleading the 'gay panic' defence."
Mr Martin praised Mr Cavallucci for extending the invitation for a tour of the gay venue to senior members of Parliament.
"He's showing great leadership as the local member in doing that. It's just a shame that the leadership of the LNP can't be as mature as he is," he said.
The LNP administration recently scrapped government funding for Healthy Communities, which was at the centre of a controversial 'rip-and-roll' safe sex campaign last year, saying the association's HIV/AIDS prevention programs were failing and the money would be redirected to a new ministerial advisory committee focused on the issue.
Mr Bleijie recently announced he would introduce legislation to only allow heterosexual couples, either married or together for more than two years, to have a child through surrogacy.
And he has also ensured the passage of changes to civil partnerships laws to remove state-sanctioned ceremonies and change the name to “registered relationships”.
Before he began talking about touring The Beat, Mr Bleijie said the government was looking at cutting red tape around community event liquor licensing.
“The liquor industry has been over regulated for many years,” he said.
“At our P&C meetings, if a school wants to have a trivia night they have to go through a whole liquor licensing procedure.
“The Premier has been clear in his direction to me with this liquor review we are undertaking. We want to make sure that we can deregulate the industry in terms of making commonsense approaches to these sorts of things.”
– additional reporting by Daniel Hurst