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Former Australian leader 'headbutted' on heated same-sex marriage campaign trail

Former prime minister Tony Abbott is a prominent opponent of the campaign for same-sex marriage in Australia.

Obama Meets Abbott Tony Abbott, pictured in Washington DC in 2014 Source: DPA/PA Images

A MAN HAS been charged with assault after allegedly headbutting former Australian leader Tony Abbott as tensions rise on the same-sex marriage campaign trail.

Abbott, an outspoken campaigner against the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign in the country, says he was “shocked” after being assaulted by the man, who initially offered to shake his hand.

The incident happened in Hobart, Tasmania, with a 38-year-old man approaching Abbott and offering his hand before striking him with his head, then running away.

“It’s a shock to have a fellow Australian seeking to shake your hand turn a handshake into an assault,” Abbott told reporters in Hobart this morning, according to ABC Australia.

Normally a handshake is a sign of trust and peace, it’s a sign of two people wanting to deal openly and courteously with each other.

Abbott’s injuries were not severe, and amounted to a swollen lip.

He said it is “more than a little disturbing that some supporters of same-sex marriage behave this way”.

Up to 15 million Australians taking part in the voluntary postal ballot can choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether gay marriage should be legalised, with the results to be released in mid-November.

The man responsible for the alleged assault has since been detained by police.

The man, from North Hobart, has been charged with one count of assault, and granted bail to appear in court on 23 October.

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Abbott, long renowned for his conservative views, was prime minister from 2013 to 2015, when he was deposed by current leader Malcolm Turnbull – a moderate who supports marriage equality.

Turnbull today condemned the assault, saying any attack “is one too many”.

“However, it’s important to remember that overwhelmingly Australians are engaging in this debate respectfully and harmoniously,” he said.

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With © – AFP, 2017

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