Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott 'headbutted in the street'

Jonathan Mitchell
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed he was assaulted in the street: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Former Australian Prime Minster Tony Abbott has claimed he was headbutted by a same-sex marriage campaigner.

Mr Abbot said he was approached and attacked by a yes campaigner as he walked to his hotel in Tasmanian capital Hobart on Thursday.

The former PM had been at lunch with campaigners opposed to same-sex marriage, with Mr Abbott saying it served as a reminder of how “ugly” the debate had become.

Australians are currently voting on whether to allow same-sex marriage, with the result of the ballot due in November.

Mr Abbott told 2GB radio: "A fellow sung out to me, ‘Hey, Tony’.

“I turned around, there was a chap wearing a ‘vote Yes’ badge. He says ‘I wanna shake your hand.’

“I went over to shake his hand and he headbutted me. He wasn't very good at it, I've got to say, but he did make contact.

“The only damage was a very, very slightly swollen lip."

He added a member of his staff “briefly grappled” with the man before he ran away “swearing his head off”.

Police in Australia have launched an investigation into the alleged incident.

Mr Abbott added: “It was just a reminder of how ugly this debate is getting.”

MP Alex Greenwich, the co-chair of The Equality Campaign, condemned the attack.

He posted on Twitter: “There is absolutely no place for violence in the marriage equality debate. This is about treating people fairly and with respect & dignity,”