Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile attends the final votes count for NSW upper house in Sydney on Friday, April 17, 2015. (AAP Image/ Sophie Tarr)

Gay marriage opponents aren’t bigots: Nile

Christian Democrats leader Reverend Fred Nile says people who oppose marriage equality aren’t bigots, and he’ll send that message when he joins the ABC’s special gay-themed episode of Q&A.

A social media backlash erupted after the conservative NSW upper house MP was chosen to join the public broadcaster’s panel on sexuality next week.

Mr Nile is a fierce advocate against gay marriage and adoption, which he says goes against the Australian culture and way of life.

“It’s crucial for those who defend their rights to traditional marriage and family, are not made to feel that they’re discriminating in any way,” Mr Nile said in a statement to AAP.

“They must understand that they certainly are not bigots.”

It comes as a Canberra Christian couple vowed to divorce earlier this week if same-sex marriage is legalised in Australia.

Mr Nile will join gay rights activist and author Dennis Altman and cabaret star Paul Capsis, plus two female panellists yet to be confirmed for next Thursday’s panel discussion on sexuality.

The special edition of Q&A will follow a screening of the new Australian documentary Between a Frock and a Hard Place, which examines the social context of the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy has defended Mr Nile’s inclusion, saying the balance-of-power MP would provide robust discussion on the change in social attitudes and laws around homosexuality, masculinity and gender.

“It’s appropriate to include some of the major protagonists in those debates such as Dennis Altman and Rev Fred Nile,” McEvoy said.

The special episode of Q&A will air on Thursday, June 18 at 9.30pm (AEST).

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