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May 28, 2017

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Gillard sexism speech sparks divisive reaction

SYDNEY -- Prime Minister Julia Gillard Wednesday defended calling Australia's opposition leader a misogynist in a speech which sparked global attention and a divisive reaction about the role of sexism in politics.

Gillard, the nation's first woman leader, lashed out Tuesday at Tony Abbott after he called for the removal of parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper over lurid text messages which referenced female genitalia.

Slipper, who stood aside in April amid claims of gay sex harassment, survived an opposition motion to dump him with the support of Gillard and her ruling Labor party, but later resigned.

During the debate, a fired-up Gillard accused Abbott of hypocrisy, saying she had been offended by many of his remarks over the years and she would not be "lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man."

Her tough comments went viral and won international praise, with U.S. feminist blog Jezebel admiringly describing her as a "badass."

"I made my speech in parliament yesterday because I formed the view that enough is enough," Gillard said Wednesday.

"I've had enough, Australian women have had enough. When I see sexism and misogyny I'm going to call them for what they are."

But her decision to defend Slipper, who she was instrumental in appointing to bolster Labor's voting numbers, while at the same time hitting out at Abbott, was slammed in Australia.

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