For release: 28 May 2015

If the Australian Parliament is to again consider changing the definition of marriage, protections for freedom of conscience and the rights of children must be part of any legislation, the Australian Christian Lobby said today.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton expressed disappointment at the apparent capitulation in the Parliament to the same-sex political agenda.

“I say apparent capitulation because a proper debate about the consequences might cause parliamentarians to think again,” Mr Shelton said.

“There are big consequences for children and freedom of conscience that flow from changing the definition of marriage.

“There will always be millions of Australians who will never accept the government’s redefinition of marriage. What will be the consequences for these people if they manifest their views in speech or action? Will they be ostracised as bigots? Will they always be allowed to teach their children that there is only one true definition of marriage?

“In the US florists, bakers and photographers are being legally punished for excercising their right of conscience not to participate in same-sex weddings. Do we want Australia’s anti-discrimination laws used this way?”

Mr Shelton said a law redefining marriage would pave the way for commercial surrogacy to be legalised in Australia.

“So called ‘marriage equality’ cannot be provided for two ‘married men’ without lifting the ban on commercial surrogacy.

“If two men with ‘marriage equality’ are to have access to babies, they need unfettered access to donor eggs from women and carrier wombs.

“Perhaps the parliament will attach a ban on commercial surrogacy to its gay marriage bill.”

Mr Shelton said a ‘marriage equality’ law would make it impossible to enact a Senate inquiry recommendation to ban sperm donor anonymity because this is unacceptable to many same-sex couples wanting families of their own.

“We know from parliamentary inquiries that many people who were conceived through donated gametes have an aching desire to know the identity of their donor parent.

“Even the Greens supported a ban on donor anonymity at the Senate inquiry into donor conception practices in Australia.

“If gay marriage is passed, what protections for children to know their identity will be provided?”

Mr Shelton urged parliamentarians contemplating a change in marriage law to think beyond the slogans of equal love and marriage equality.