September 22, 2017 / 5:17 AM / 3 months ago

Australian police charge man for attacking former PM Abbott

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police charged a 38-year-old man on Friday for allegedly assaulting former prime minister and same-sex marriage opponent Tony Abbott in the Tasmanian city of Hobart.

Australia's former Prime Minister Tony Abbott attends Britain's annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The man was charged with ‘Common Assault’ following an investigation into a complaint made by Abbott, Tasmania police said on its Facebook page.

Abbott told local media he was “headbutted” by a man wearing a ‘yes’ badge in support of same-sex marriage on Thursday evening.

Australia began a non-compulsory postal vote this month to determine whether it becomes the 25th country to legalise same-sex marriage.

The emotionally charged campaign has seen an alarming volume of hate speech, spurring parliament to pass emergency legislation to outlaw opponents spewing their vitriol while the vote was in progress.

Abbott, who is actively campaigning for the ‘no’ side, sustained minor injuries from the attack including a slightly swollen lip.

Police did not comment on the motivation of the attack.

Earlier this month, the godson of former prime minister Kevin Rudd was allegedly assaulted in Brisbane by a man who was tearing down rainbow flags put up in support of same-sex marriage.

In May, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who is openly gay, had a lemon meringue pie launched at his face in a protest about his advocacy for same-sex marriage.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Michael Perry

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