By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com March 17 2014 7:02 PM ET
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott got perhaps more than he bargained for Friday when he met by chance with a group of high school students visiting the nation’s capital and they asked him pointed questions on, among other things, marriage equality.
Students from Newtown Performing Arts High School encountered Abbott on the lawn of Parliament House in Canberra, and he invited them to ask questions, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. One student quickly queried, “Why are you so against legalizing gay marriage?”
Abbott replied that he supported “loving, permanent relationships,” but could not really explain why same-sex couples should not have the right to marry, saying, “I guess it’s a definitional thing.” The student responded that she has many gay friends and found it “sad to think they can’t get married just because they’re attracted to the same sex.”
The students also pressed him on carbon taxes, asylum for refugees, and gender equity, with one asking, “Why is a man a minister for women?” According to the Herald, “Abbott answered with equanimity, arguing it was within people’s capacity to make decisions for others.”
Student Aria McCarthy-Lochner, who uploaded a video of the exchange with Abbott to YouTube, said the young people were surprised to see the prime minister but not afraid to confront him about serious issues. "It wasn’t difficult at all,” she said, according to the Herald. “Straight away, it was gay marriage, carbon tax, asylum seekers, and gender equality.”
Watch the video below.