A conservative Australian pundit has angered international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates by making claims that smoking is healthier than living in same-sex relationships.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Jim Wallace, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), told students at University of Tasmania this week that health statistics for smokers were greater than those of gay men.

"I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health -- which it presents when it wants more money for health -- [include] higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide...it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years," Wallace is quoted as saying during the discussion with Greens leader Christine Milne. "The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."

He then went on to note, "But what I'm saying is we need to be aware that the homosexual lifestyle carries these problems and...normalizing the lifestyle by the attribution of marriage, for instance, has to be considered in what it does encouraging people into it."

Wallace's comments come at a time when Tasmania could become the first Australian state to legalize gay marriage. Last week, Tasmania's lower house became the first chamber of an Australian parliament to pass a marriage equality bill by 13 to 11, the Herald reports.

Among those to criticize Wallace's stance was Australian Marriage Equality national convener Alex Greenwich, who called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to reconsider reconsider addressing the lobby's national conference.

"Jim Wallace has made it clear that the Christian Lobby is basing their campaign against equality on fear rather than facts," Greenwich is quoted by Gay Star News as saying. "To salvage what limited creditably he has left, Mr Wallace should apologize for the damage that such extreme comments would have on vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people."

Still, a spokesman for Gillard told The Age, ''The Prime Minister speaks at many events…none of those attendances should be taken as endorsement of all of the views of everyone involved in every one of those organizations."

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Kevin McCullough: I Don't Believe You Can Be Gay

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  • Scott Lively: Gay-Straight Alliances Are Designed To Recruit Kids

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  • Michele Bachmann On Gay Lifestyles

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  • Tony Perkins: 'If You Want A Military That Just Does Parades,' Allow Gays To Openly Serve

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  • Daniel Lapin: Gays Should've Been Quarantined To fight AIDS

  • Pat Robertson Advises Father To Seek Ex-Gay Conversion For Gay Son

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  • Alan Osmond: In Defense Of Reparation Therapy

    Alan Osmond, who shot to fame in the late 1960s and early '70s as one of The Osmonds, took heat in November <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/alan-osmond-anti-gay-article_n_1084463.html" target="_hplink">for penning an article</a> that some in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) blogsophere deemed homophobic. In his article for<a href="http://thefamily.com/" target="_hplink"> the website The Family</a>, the 62-year-old Osmond brother, who is Mormon, not only argued that being gay is not genetic, but also comes out in defense of "reparation" therapy, which is sought by those seeking to change their sexual orientation: <blockquote>Research has NOT proved that homosexuality is genetic. Even more important, many researchers whose studies have been used to support a biological model for homosexuality have determined that their work has been MISINTERPRETED. What is clear is that homosexuality results from an interaction of social, biological, and psychological factors. These factors may include temperament, personality traits, sexual abuse, familial factors, and treatment by one's peers.</blockquote> Before noting that "treatment success rates that exceed 50 percent," Osmond continued: <blockquote>Developmental factors aside, can individuals diminish homosexual attraction and make changes in their lives? Yes. There is substantial evidence, both historical and current, to indicate this is the case.</blockquote>

  • Victoria Jackson: Homophobia Is 'Buzzword Of Liberal Agenda'

    The former "Saturday Night Live" star and now Tea Party activist sparked national furor when she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/22/victoria-jackson-slams-glee-showbiz-tonight_n_838862.html" target="_hplink">slammed the hit show "Glee" after it featured a kiss between two gay characters</a> in a column for WorldNetDaily. In the column, Jackson wrote in response to an emotional, long awaited kiss between Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss). "Did you see "Glee" this week? Sickening! And, besides shoving the gay thing down our throats, they made a mockery of Christians - again! I wonder what their agenda is? Hey, producers of "Glee" - what's your agenda? One-way tolerance?" She later appeared on "Showbiz Tonight" to clarify her thoughts. "Well, it doesn't matter what I think," Jackson said. "What matters is what the Bible says. And I'm really concerned about our country because immorality is, well, let's see: secular humanism rules the airwaves, and it's stealing the innocence away from this whole generation of children. My daughter is a teenager and I can't find any show that she can watch." With that diatribe, Jackson was asked, based on her remarks, both in the column and in the interview, whether she was homophobic. "That's a cute little buzzword of the liberal agenda," Jackson smirked. "Basically, the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin."

  • Brett Ratner: Rehearsal 'Is For Fags'

    After<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/brett-ratner-gay-slur-apology_n_1080432.html" target="_hplink"> being asked whether he rehearses with his actors </a>before shooting a scene, the "Tower Heist" director Ratner infamously replied, "Rehearsing is for fags." The gaffe, made during a Q&A session following a "Tower Heist" screening in late 2011, seemed questionable even for the sharp-tongued Ratner, who is said to be in talks to direct an adaptation of the Broadway musical "Wicked." One audience member is said to have been so upset by the reference that they immediately left the session. Though he later resigned from co-producer of the 2012 Oscars telecast, he also apologized for the statement: "It was a dumb way of expressing myself," he wrote. "Everyone who knows me knows that I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words."

  • Ann Coulter Calls John Edwards A 'Faggot'

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