13 July 2015

Today's editorial in The Australian and a commentary piece in the Weekend Australian by Editor-at-Large Paul Kelly represent welcome if not belated discussion about the consequences of legislating a new definition of marriage.

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton welcomed the raising of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion issues by the mainstream media.

"We have been concerned for many years about the intolerance of same-sex marriage lobbyists and some politicians who say there is no place in Australia for people who do not agree with a proposed new definition of marriage," Mr Shelton said.

Mr Shelton said Kelly was right to say there was a "haze of misinformation and emotion" surrounding the debate.

"It is admirable that supporters of same-sex marriage such as The Australian newspaper and human rights commissioner Tim Wilson acknowledge that current proposals to change marriage do not protect people who will never accept the state's new definition.

"However, what is becoming clear is that same-sex marriage ideology is incompatible with freedom.

"All of the debate of the past five years has been about forcing people of conscience to bow to the new definition of marriage," Mr Shelton said.

"In America and Europe individuals who exercise their conscience and publicly manifest their belief in the timeless definition of marriage are routinely being hauled before courts and tribunals. Australians would not support same-sex marriage if they knew that this was a consequence."

Mr Shelton said Kelly was right to observe that all of the current proposals to change the definition of marriage contained no protections for individuals' freedom of conscience and inadequate protections for religious freedom.

"Mr Kelly is right to observe that lack of protections for non-religious individuals and of religions amounted to 'calculated intolerance' by same-sex marriage lobbyists and their political supporters."

Mr Shelton renewed ACL's calls for Australian Marriage Equality head Rodney Croome to stop reporting the Catholic Church to the Human Rights Commission for distributing material promoting the benefits of gender diverse marriage.

"I note that Mr Croome last week rejected the idea of protections against legal action against individuals who did not agree with same-sex marriage.

"Also, the New South Wales independent MP and former head of AME, Alex Greenwich, should cease his attacks on the protections for religious freedom in State anti-discrimination law," Mr Shelton said.

"There is a long way to go before thinking people could have confidence that the same-sex marriage political agenda does not reach far beyond the slogans of 'equal love' for two adults," Mr Shelton said.