The election battle over gay marriage intensified at an Australian Christian Lobby forum in Canberra last night, with Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Opposition Leader Zed Seselja clashing over the issue.
Just hours after the Tasmanian Parliament passed marriage equality laws, Mr Seselja pledged his party's commitment to the ''traditional definition'' of marriage while Ms Gallagher vowed to continue to pursue an end to ''discrimination''.
But the two leaders agreed that there would be no crackdown on Canberra's prostitution or pornography industries as they took questions from local Christian leaders at the ANU School of Music's Llewellyn Hall.
Mr Seselja staked out his position early in the event and won applause from the audience of about 160 by telling the audience that his party's position was to support the ''special'' status of marriage between a man and woman. But Ms Gallagher placed herself at odds with her opponent and said she was determined to pursue marriage equality for same-sex couples.
''I think my answer is not going to please you but I don't think it should be a surprise to anyone,'' she said. ''The Labor Party has been the party that introduced the Civil Unions Act and indeed, changes to that were passed last week. The ACT government's, the Labor Party's view is for same-sex couples to have the same rights as other citizens, we've done that in many other areas and we don't see any reason not to do that in marriage equality.''
Asked if they were proud to represent the city where much of Australia's pornography was produced, both leaders ruled out any crackdown on the local industry.
''We need to provide a good strong regulatory and licensing system and we do,'' Ms Gallagher said. ''We've got very good compliance with our laws here in the ACT.''
Mr Seselja said he was ''not particularly proud'' of the porn industry's presence in Canberra, but said the challenge was to prevent adult material falling into the hands of children. ''It's not an easy one,'' he said.