PROMINENT business figure Roger Corbett has come out against same-sex marriage in a bizarre television interview.
The former Fairfax chairman and managing director of Woolworths was a guest on ABC's 7.30 program where he explained his reasons for opposing change to Leigh Sales.
But things quickly veered into tricky terrain, with Corbett raising slavery and race, and seemed to contradict himself on how involved corporations should be in the debate.
He also insisted that it wasn't discriminatory to forbid same-sex couples from being able to legally wed.
"It's not discriminatory in any way," Corbett said. "It's a statement that (marriage) is between men and women. A man and a man and a woman and a woman can have a similar relationship, but it's different.
"A black man and a white man are equal, but they're clearly different. A black man will never be a white man and vice versa."
Corbett said his views were based on "Judaeo-Christian tradition in society" and insisted marriage was intended to be between a man and woman.
"Clearly a man and a woman together can create children. And a marriage is really a union to provide an environment in which children can be conceived, born and brought up. And it is probably the best arrangement."
Corbett, who began the interview by stating that he has many gay friends and repeated throughout that he "respects homosexuals", conceded that many Australians had "a different sexual inclination".
"(They) have a perfect right to a union that is exactly equal and should be treated exactly equally in the community, but let's call marriage marriage and let's find an appropriate name for other relationships."
Corbett admitted he was worried that being vocal in his opposition might cause a backlash, but said standing up for his convictions was worthwhile.
He also said his traditional view is "more widely recognised in the community that people might think".
"But I think people are scared that they might be vilified."
The former corporate high-flyer took aim at businesses that have supported the same-sex marriage 'yes' campaign, including Qantas and its chief executive Alan Joyce.
Corbett said it was "entirely wrong" for any company to take part in the debate however when asked if his view applied to all social issues, he said it didn't.
"If it was, for example, slavery, I would think that that was entirely appropriate. But here the community, there is a norm of marriage in our community between - being between a man and a woman. People deeply believe in that.
"In my view, it is the way we were created. It doesn't mean ... in no way (do I) think that gay people should be in any way discriminated, but it is different.
"You can't say everyone will be white or everyone will be black. That's not the case. A majority of the people in this community, the vast majority, are men and women who are married together in union that is called marriage."
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