Katter warns candidates to keep mum on gay issues

Candidates for Katter's Australian Party will not be allowed to use the party as a soapbox on gay issues, said party founder Bob Katter.

His comments come after two potential candidates in Victoria and Queensland said they would not want gay people teaching their children.

Mr Katter told Fairfax Media on Thursday that candidates should focus on the main policy battles.

Mr Katter, who has previously stirred controversy in his arguments against same-sex marriage, also said he regretted the party's focus on such issues during the 2012 Queensland election campaign.

The party ran ads during that campaign which featured a pixellated image of a shirtless same-sex couple and claimed a vote for Campbell Newman would be a vote for gay marriage.

''So I've got plenty to answer for and I paid for my sins,'' he said. ''That ad was never my idea. I was never in favour of it.''

Mr Katter said the party would make it very clear to candidates and potential candidates not to air their views on issues such as gay rights.

''The party will not be used by people to air and promote their own personal preoccupations and predilections,'' he said.

National director Aidan McLindon said the party's position would be communicated to all proposed and potential candidates and zone chairs across Australia.

The controversy began with potential candidate for the Wannon electorate in Victoria, Tess Corbett, in an interview with her local paper, likening gay and lesbian people with paedophiles.

Queensland candidate hopeful Bernard Gaynor then tweeted his support saying he did not want gay people teaching his children.

Labor Senator Penny Wong responded on Twitter to Ms Corbett's comments on Thursday morning with: ''Bigotry is not morality. And it has no place in today's Australia.''

Mr Gaynor, an Iraq war veteran and former national secretary of Katter's Australian Party, has not been formally endorsed by the party to run for the senate but is one of the contenders.

The formal status of Ms Corbett's candidacy was unclear on Thursday. Her name did not appear on a list of federal candidates and MPs on Katter's Australian Party's website.

Asked whether Ms Corbett was an endorsed candidate, Mr Katter said: ''I wouldn't know. You'd have to ask the party that.''

Comment is being sought from the party.

When asked whether he supported Mr Gaynor's senate bid, Mr Katter said the party's statement against candidates airing their own preoccupations was ''very, very clear and very, very unequivocal''.

''Quite frankly we've had six or seven going the other way,'' he said, alluding to other party hopefuls who held more moderate views on gay rights.

Death threats

Mr Gaynor said he had not spoken to Mr Katter since the controversy arose.

''I'm sure that Bob would absolutely support me 100 per cent in the right of parents to choose who teaches their children,'' Mr Gaynor told Fairfax Media.

He acknowledged Mr Katter was not keen on his candidacy ''but that's over other issues which I don't want to go into''.

Mr Gaynor blasted the ''convected outrage on Twitter'' as unreflective of mainstream views.

''There's been a constant stream of vitriolic and hateful invective at me,'' Mr Gaynor said.

''I've also received a number of emails which have expressed rather unsavoury points of view about my health and life including wishing I had died when I was serving in Iraq.

''I don't appreciate that kind of commentary.''

Mr Gaynor said he would consider going to the police if the comments wishing he was dead continued.

He admitted some people may have viewed his original comments about gays as provocative, but insisted teachers had a huge amount of influence over children.

''I don't think there'd be any parent out there who would say they don't have a right to choose who their teacher is,'' he said.

Past controversies

It is not the first time Katter's Australian Party – and its potential candidates – have courted controversy over attitudes to gay rights.

Justin Englert, an SES controller in Mackay in central Queensland, expressed an interest in running as the Katter's Australian Party federal candidate for Dawson.

He appeared to have the backing of Mr Katter, who reportedly flew to the area late last year to discuss Mr Englert's candidacy.

But after Mr Englert told a local newspaper that he did not agree with Mr Katter's opposition to gay marriage, the party's Dawson chairman, Lindsay Temple, warned that the core principles were non-negotiable.

One core principle of Katter's Australian Party is that modern Australia was founded on Christian values and makes it clear that  gay marriage is off limits.

''Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, ideally for life,'' the party states.

''It is in the best interests of children that they are nurtured by their father and their mother and laws concerning children should be based on the best interests of children.''

with Richard Willingham and Adrian Lowe

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