A close aide to Australia's would-be prime minister Tony Abbott has resigned after saying that same-sex marriage would open the way legalizing bestiality and polygamy.
Sen. Cory Bernardi's comments were slammed by gay rights lobby groups and politicians in Australia.
Bernardi, speaking before a vote on gay marriage by the Australian parliament, described gay marriage as "another tear in the fabric of our social mores," according to News 24.
He reportedly said:
"If we are prepared to redefine marriage so that it suits the latest criterion that two people who love each other should be able to get married irrespective of their gender... then what is the next step? The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society. There are even some creepy people out there... [who] say it is okay to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step?"
The remarks created a daylong furor played out in the Australian media.
Some of the staunchest criticism of Bernardi's comments came from within his own party, with Liberal lawmaker Malcolm Turnbull saying:
"It's hysterical, it's alarmist, it's offensive and it does not represent the mainstream view of Australian people, let alone the Liberal party."
The Fairfax media quoted Australian Marriage Equality convener Alex Greenwich as saying Bernardi's comments were taken straight from the "American religious right play book":
"It's based on fear, not on facts.There is no international example that backs up what he's saying. The comments are highly offensive to the tens of thousands of loving and committed same-sex couples who just want to marry."
Before resigning, Bernardi acted as Abbott's parliamentary secretary.
Abbott, a staunch Catholic who opinion polls suggest could become prime minister when an election is held next year, described Bernardi's comments as "ill-disciplined," Australia's ABC reported.
Abbott, whose sister, a lesbian, supports gay marriage, told reporters he had accepted Bernardi's resignation.
"They're views I don't share," Abbott, the opposition leader, told reporters in Canberra.
"They're views that I think many people would find repugnant," he added.
According to Adelaide Now, Bernardi later issued a statement explaining his decision to step down, however he did not apologize for his comments.
The country's parliament voted 98-42 against the legislation — which aimed to lift Australia's ban on same-sex marriage.