Opposition Leader Bill Shorten should stop smearing supporters of the people's vote on marriage as "homophobes".

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said Mr Shorten's backflip on supporting a people's vote meant he could not have it both ways.

"Was Mr Shorten a homophobe three years ago when he told an ACL election forum he supported a plebiscite?

"The use of bullying language to demonise people who simply wish to preserve the definition of marriage must stop,” Mr Shelton said.

"If there is homophobic or bigoted language being used in the marriage debate, Mr Shorten should give examples.

“All of us deplore phobia against our fellow citizens. However, smearing people as bigots with unspecified allegations simply creates a climate of intimidation designed to silence one side of the debate.

"Advocating for marriage to remain between one man and one woman and for the rights of children, wherever possible, to be raised by their mum and dad is not bigotry," Mr Shelton said.

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