Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pulled out of a speech at the Australian Christian Lobby's national conference, after its managing director compared the health effects of smoking to homosexuality.
Ms Gillard said Jim Wallace's comments were "heartless and wrong" and it would be "inappropriate" for her to attend the conference next month.
Mr Wallace made the remarks in Tasmania yesterday during a debate with Greens leader Christine Milne on the merits of same-sex marriage.
"I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that it has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years," he told the audience.
"The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."
This morning, he accused "gay activists" of misrepresenting his comments.
"I was not comparing homosexuality with smoking at all," Mr Wallace said in a statement.
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