Australia’s ambassador to France Stephen Brady reportedly offered to resign after being instructed that his gay partner was not to meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Paris on Anzac Day. However, Abbott later reportedly dismissed the issue as “trivia.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday that Brady was waiting on the tarmac at a Paris airport with Peter Stephens, his partner, when he was informed by Abbott’s traveling party that Stephens was to stay in the car and not greet the party openly. Brady reportedly disregarded the instructions, for which he was given no reason, and later offered his resignation, which was denied.
Brady, who continues to serve as ambassador to France, reportedly declined to comment on the matter, while Abbott later told reporters in Perth that he was not aware that Stephens had been asked not to meet him at the airport.
“My understanding is that there was some issue at the level of junior officials and I don’t concern myself with these things, all I want to say is that [Brady] is a fine servant of Australia, a really fine servant of Australia, he’s a friend of mine, always has been and as far as I’m concerned always will be,” the Guardian reported.
Abbott’s parliamentary assistant, Alan Tudge, condemned the article’s implication that Abbott did not want to be greeted by a gay man, and said the request was part of standard diplomatic protocol.
“I think it is actually a disgraceful article because it has the implication that the Prime Minister wanted a gay person not to greet him on the tarmac when he had arrived in Paris. I think that’s a disgraceful allegation. I think that that should be withdrawn. No such thing occurred. There are protocols in place which were asked to be adhered to,” he told Sky News, cited by The Australian.
“My understanding was that the Prime Minister was in fact greeted by Ambassador Brady and his partner and the Prime Minister was warmly welcomed and had no problem with that; of course he didn’t,” he added.
The Australian reported that the decision was based on protocol, which dictates that ambassadors should not be accompanied by a partner when meeting a prime minister if the latter is not traveling with their own partner.
Brady and Stephens became the world’s first openly gay ambassadorial couple when Brady became Australia’s ambassador to Denmark in 1999. Brady was awarded the Order of Australia this year for "distinguished service to successive Australian governments.”