12 August 2015

Any referendum questions on marriage must canvass the consequences of change, allowing a free and open debate, Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said today.

“This debate can’t continue with television networks like Channel 7 and Channel 10 refusing to run innocuous advertisements putting the other side of the argument,” Mr Shelton said.

“The word ‘bigotry’, used again by journalists on social media last night, must be dropped from the public discourse so that there is complete freedom to put the alternative view.”

Mr Shelton said the Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s floating of a referendum or plebiscite next term of Parliament gave breathing space for ordinary Australians to be allowed to know what is at stake.

“Any referendum questions must canvass the harms to freedom of speech, religion and conscience raised by the Australian Human Right’s Commission’s ‘freedom commissioner’ Tim Wilson.

“Referendum questions must also canvass the societal consequences of intentionally creating motherless and fatherless children through controversial assisted reproduction techniques such as commercial surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation.

“We need to unpack what ‘marriage equality’ means.”

Mr Shelton said it was important there was equal public funding for both sides and Parliament should impose a ban on overseas donations to either side.

“Many Australians don’t know that same-sex couples already have full equality under the law. If Australians were allowed to know this and to be informed of the consequences of redefining marriage, I would be very confident a referendum would support the status quo.”

Mr Shelton said the Coalition party room decision last night effectively gives people permission to keep speaking about the consequences of same-sex marriage without fear.

“We know that the leaders of the ‘marriage equality’ political lobby want to report marriage supporters to human rights commissions, especially if religious schools dare to teach their religion’s teaching on marriage.

“It is vital that mainstream Australians use the opportunity the Coalition party room has given to speak up before it is too late.”