There was a good deal of name-calling yesterday in Parliament – all directed at anyone who supports the government’s election promise to hold a people’s vote on marriage. Senator Anne Urquhart referred to the ‘rabid right’ and the ‘vicious anti-marriage equality lobby’. Senator Susan Lines said Australia was being held hostage by ‘a Rump’ of right-wing conservatives. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young spoke of ‘ideologs and haters’.

Complaining of the ‘many, many, deeply, deeply offensive emails’ she received from constituents opposed to same sex marriage, Lines explained that she refuses to answer such emails – and unfortunately for anyone who would wish to investigate this further - they get deleted. Lines argued that a respectful public debate is impossible because it gives a strong voice to those who oppose same-sex marriage and would therefore be ‘divisive’. It seems that Lines may think that disagreement and offensive behavior are the same thing.

Senator Chris Back, speaking in support of a plebiscite, argued that the examples of offensive behavior he could point to all went the other way, and passed well beyond offensive emails. He referred to:

  • The violent attack on Senator Bernardi’s offices by activists (who threatened Bernardi’s staff, vandalized his offices and targeted his children’s school, which had to close its gates against the protestors).
  • The ‘feral social media posts, and threatened violence’ directed at the Mecure Sydney Airport Hotel for hosting a meeting of those campaigning to preserve marriage, which included ACL staff. Again, children were targeted as LGBTI activists asked the staff of the Mecure Hotel “are your children safe at the Mecure?”
  • The case of Tasmanian Archbishop Porteous who was dragged before an anti-discrimination tribunal for instructing the Catholic community about the church’s teaching on marriage.

Back concluded his point saying “if there is intolerance and hate speech, it hasn’t come from people who would support marriage as it is currently defined.”