Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s playing of the suicide card is a dangerous and disappointing attempt to use emotional blackmail to silence debate, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

“No one wants to see anyone come to harm and in 10 years of debate there has never been any targeting of people by those of us who support preserving the definition of marriage,” ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said.

“Regrettably there are feral social media trolls on both sides but this is not a reason not to have a public conversation.

“Changing the definition of marriage in law is the biggest social policy change of our generation and all Australians must be free to participate without intimidation.

“The idea that the Australian people can’t be trusted to have a respectful and civil public debate about something which has enormous consequences is quite frankly insulting.

“The power of Mr Shorten’s suggestion to vulnerable people is irresponsible.

“Malcolm Turnbull took the plebiscite policy to the people and was re-elected just two months ago.  The people voted down Labor’s policy to redefine marriage for the second consecutive time.

“Ireland managed to have a civil debate about redefining marriage, I am sure Australians can do the same.

“Suggesting that millions of Australians are homophobes and bigots who can’t be trusted to engage in a respectful debate is unbecoming of someone who aspires to become Prime Minister,” Mr Shelton said.