Fears of 'vile' anti-gay campaign in lead-up to vote
AUSTRALIA can prepare for an onslaught of anti-gay marriage material as same-sex marriage opponents ramp up their campaigns to achieve a "no" result in the upcoming plebiscite.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday announced people would have almost two months to vote in the likely postal plebiscite, meaning supporters and opponents would have just as long to campaign for their desires results.
Groups against same sex marriage have already begun printing booklets and preparing advertising material that gay rights groups believe could be harmful to the mental health of young gay and lesbian Australians.
We've already seen a preview of what one group has planned, with Fairfax Media publishing leaflets authorised by former Liberal MP Chris Miles warning of what it says are the consequences of same-sex marriage.
"Married biological parents have a better record for providing safety and development of healthy, well-adjusted adult children. They minimise abuse and neglect of children," the pamphlet reads.
In a list headed "The Facts", the document suggests children raised by gay parents are more likely to be unemployed and abuse drugs, and are more prone to suicide.
When the pamphlets were first revealed, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten labelled them "vile".
The Australian Christian Lobby, one of the fiercest opponents and most high profile groups against same-sex marriage, is planning to launch a full-scale campaign to convince the voting population that the Marriage Act should not change.
Though it's understood there will be no government funding supplied on either side of the debate, the ACL is not letting that hold it back, and will rely on private supporters to pay for the aggressive advertising it has planned.
Mr Shelton says this makes his side of the debate "the underdog".
"We understand there won't be any funding, for no one. That makes it particularly difficult to our side because we don't have Qantas and Alan Joyce and corporate Australia behind us," he told 2GB on Tuesday night.
"We're going to see another situation like Ireland where you saw 10s of millions in overseas money coming in to influence the debate."
The public campaign against same sex marriage leading up to Ireland's 2015 national referendum was found to have made young LGBTI people depressed, angry and feel marginalised.
A University of Queensland study last year found people's health was affected as the "no" campaign gained traction.
Irish people were bombarded with aggressive television advertisements focusing on the alleged impact of gay marriage on children.
Voters were told if legislation was changed they risked their children being encouraged to cross dress and included lines like "if you think a mother's love is irreplaceable, vote no".
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has already begun his own private campaign for the "no" vote.
Speaking to reporters in Canberra Mr Abbott said he would encourage people to vote against marriage reform to "stop political correctness in its tracks".
"If you don't like same-sex marriage vote 'no'," he said.
"If you're worried about religious freedom and free speech vote 'no', if you don't like political correctness, vote 'no'."
Announcing the dates for the vote that would decide whether parliamentarians would vote on changing the marriage act, Mr Turnbull yesterday he was confident Australians would be able to handle the campaign.
"There are arguments against having a plebiscite, I understand that," the Prime Minister said.
"But the weakest argument of all, which I think has no basis, is that the Australian people aren't capable of having a respectful discussion on this issue."
The government will reintroduce a proposal for a compulsory plebiscite to parliament, with the vote to take place on November 25.
In the likely event the proposed plebiscite does not pass the senate, the government will push ahead with a voluntary postal plebiscite with forms to be sent out next month, and responses due mid November.