Australian senator Matt Canavan's LGBT comments spark outrage

An Australian senator has drawn sharp condemnation for his poor use of words when he said there were "only 2800" suicides last year.

He was attempting to correct claims that 3000 Australians killed themselves, but many have taken issue with his use of the word "only". 

Australia is currently holding a postal vote on whether same sex marriage should be legalised, with results expected on November 15.

At a recent televised debate, an audience member shared his experience of homophobic bullying and asked Matt Canavan, from the Australian National Party, why the Government wasn't working to protect "society's most vulnerable" .

Mr Canavan responded that when he made comments calling campaigners "delicate little snowflakes" he was referring to "all sides" of the same sex marriage debate and not just the vote yes campaign.

Australian Greens Leader Richard Di Natale then brought up an incident where Mr Canavan accused Westpac of "same sex blackmail" after a note supporting a law change was sent to staff.

Mr Canavan said: "Let's go with the facts. That particular note you're referring to, they accuse people who … support traditional marriage … of causing 3000 suicides in Australia every year when last year there was only 2800 suicides. " 

Mr Canavan denies calling the note blackmail, instead referring to it as "attempted blackmail".

Twitter users were unimpressed with the comments, with several tweeting their displeasure with Mr Canavan's response.

Where to find help and support:

  • Lifeline  0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline  0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline  0800 611 116
  • Samaritans  0800 726 666 
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Mental Health Foundation