The head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Jim Wallace says smoking is healthier than the lifestyle that would be promoted by same-sex marriage.
Mr Wallace made the claim in a debate on marriage equality with Greens leader Christine Milne at the University of Tasmania. Answering a question from a student on the relevance of his views, he said health statistics among the gay community were worse than those for smokers.
"I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years," he told the audience. "The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."
After the debate, Mr Wallace said the figures saddened him. Senator Milne accused the ACL of homophobia and said Christians should be more concerned with poverty than homosexuality. Mr Wallace accused the Greens of demonising churches with "hate language" and caring more for trees than children.