National Party Sen. Barry O’Sullivan made the comments in Australian Parliament on Wednesday, saying he was tired of being attacked for his beliefs.
“I’m going to declare my gender today — as I can — to be a woman, and then you’ll no longer be able to attack me,” O’Sullivan said in a video shared by ParlView.
His controversial remarks came after comments from Greens senators Mehreen Faruqi and Larissa Waters earlier this week. Waters criticized the 61-year-old senator after O’Sullivan made a motion on Monday to prohibit pro-choice activists from disrupting the Day of the Unborn Child on March 25, which was established by Pope John Paul.
Waters said he would never understand women’s choices, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports, telling Parliament and O’Sullivan that he “needs to get his hands and his rosaries off my ovaries.”
O’Sullivan issued a rebuke during his Wednesday speech, calling it outrageous.
He said that people in Parliament have come with “reasonably strong views” on issues like abortion but says they’ve been attacked by the Greens.
“They are so far to the left, you wouldn’t find them if you had two pairs of bifocals on at the same time. It is outrageous,” O’Sullivan said. “She attacked me for my religious basis … using words like rosary beads because I had the audacity to raise issues around late-term abortions.”
His declaration attracted criticism on Twitter, with some people mocking him.
“Barry O’Sullivan declares himself a woman; immediately suffers 26 per cent pay cut, faces challenge for pre-selection,” Kenny Devine wrote on Twitter.
Michelle Pini joked about O’Sullivan’s clothing choices. “Surely as a senator, Ms. Barry O’Sullivan should pay closer attention to her hair and clothing style,” Pini wrote.
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi also commented on the declaration, referencing her speech on the “far-right in Parliament” and saying on Twitter that O’Sullivan “didn’t take it very well.”
Waters later withdrew her remark after another senator said it reflected O’Sullivan’s religion, 9 News reports.
O’Sullivan’s motion to ban pro-choice activists from the Day of the Unborn Child failed 32-12.