As the same-sex marriage postal survey 'no' campaign hits a new low, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls anti-LGBT posters 'hurtful' but part of the democratic debate.
The posters appeared in Melbourne lane-ways on Monday morning, featuring an image of a helpless young boy being menaced by two people approaching him with rainbow belts. The posters list false statistics claiming that 92 per cent of children raised by same-sex parents are abused, that 51 per cent have depression and that 72 per cent are obese.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten reacted to the smear campaign on his Facebook page on Monday.
“Overnight, it appears some disgusting posters have emerged against marriage equality. I absolutely condemn them and encourage Malcolm Turnbull to do the same," he wrote.
“Labor opposed this postal survey because we feared exactly this kind of hurtful filth would emerge. This kind of garbage isn’t ‘debate’, it’s abuse. I’m so sorry that LGBTI Australians have to put up with it.”
“Let’s make sure there’s an overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote in response.”
LGBT advocate Rodney Croombe called upon Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull “to condemn this vilification and set out the parameters for respectful debate.”
“We have long warned the Government that a plebiscite or postal vote on marriage equality would amplify extremist and hateful views – yet the Prime Minister assured us of a respectful debate.”
“It is now incumbent on the Prime Minister, who initiated the postal vote campaign, to take responsibility and denounce anti-LGBTI vilification like this poster.”
On radio station 2DayFM on Tuesday, Turnbull labelled the signs “hurtful” but allowable as part of democratic debate.
“We’re in a democracy,” Mr Turnbull told the 2DayFM hosts Em Rusciano and Harley Breen.
“People will often say in any democratic debate, they’ll often say things that are hurtful and unfair and sometimes cruel, that is part of a debate.”
“The only way to stop people saying things that you find hurtful is to shut down free speech.”
“Our society, the most successful multicultural society in the world is built on a foundation of mutual respect.”
“I deplore disrespectful abusive language, whether it is directed at young gay people or people of other religions or people of other races.”
“Mutual respect and a respectful debate is what we should have in Australia.”
Describing the postal survey that he forced on the country as “this difficult time,” the Prime Minister urged Australians to comfort the LGBT community, saying it’s a “time to put your arms around them, to give them your love and support.”
Meanwhile, on Channel Nine’s Today show, openly gay TV star Magda Szubanski struggled to contain her grief whilst discussing the toll this hateful and unnecessary process is having on the LGBT community.
"I barely made it through my childhood, and I don't want that to happen to any of these kids," she said of vulnerable young LGBT people.
"And the fact that there are so many wrongs in the world that are so complicated and can't be made right, this is a wrong that can be made right so simply, if it had been passed in parliament.”
“The way they will send our children to war, they will kill our children without consulting us, but they won’t protect them.”
“The whole thing with marriage equality is that you can’t have a nation in which a certain percentage are not given equality under the law.”
“Now, in terms of the taxes they want to get us from it’s absolutely equal, but in terms of our rights it’s not.”
"When I think about my childhood and the vilification and the disgust I was on the receiving end of, and all I wanted to do was bring joy... It's so unnecessary... you talk about christian charity, this is the most unkind thing for no good reason."
"I want to send a strong message too, we all do. We'll get through this, we'll survive it …and also, we need young LGBTQI people to know to not isolate themselves, to reach out, find the support and we are there, we've got their backs and so have so many straight Australian allies.”
If you are struggling to cope, you can call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 for immediate assistance from a trained mental health professional.
Remember that you must be enrolled to vote by Thursday to have your say in the postal survey. Click here to check your enrolment details.