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Bob_brianAn openly gay leader of the Australian Greens has announced his resignation as party leader and a senator in the Canberra federal parliament.

Bob Brown, 67, will retire after 16 years as leader, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The Greens occupies 150 seats in the House of Representatives and nine out of 76 seats in the senate. Mr Brown has been a tireless campaigner for same-sex marriage equality.

He said that he is “very sad to go but very happy to make way for the depth of talent” in the Greens.

Senator Christine Milne will take over as leader.

She said: “Under Bob’s wise leadership, the Greens have grown into the undisputed third force in Australian politics, with our vision, policies and action towards a healthier, cleverer, cleaner future embraced by 1.7 million Australians.

“Under my leadership, we will work tirelessly towards making Australia a great place to live and work.

“For 25 years, Bob has been an inspiration to millions of Australians and a great force for good in our country. But he’s also been a colleague, a mentor and friend to me. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for everything he has done and look forward to the next stage in his career.”

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said Senator Brown had been an important role model for Australia.

He said: “Bob Brown’s charm, erudition, bravery and compassion, and most of all his pride in being gay in face of deep prejudice, have made him a beacon for three generations of gay and lesbian people in Tasmania and across the nation.

He added: “All of us owe Bob a debt of gratitude for the rights we have, for the acceptance we enjoy, and for the hope we have of a better future.”

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