29 September 2015

The reporting of Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous to government authorities for speaking up for marriage between one man and one woman should be of concern to all freedom loving Australians.

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said regardless of where people stood on the marriage debate, no one should be reported to an anti-discrimination commission for their views.

Mr Shelton said Archbishop Porteous would now have to go through a mandatory process to respond to the allegations against him.

“This is particularly chilling considering all he did was distribute Catholic teaching on marriage to parents of children enrolled in Catholic schools.”

The complaint concerns a booklet printed by the Catholic Church defending gender-complementary marriage, entitled Don’t Mess With Marriage. It is respectful in tone and explains why changing the definition of marriage takes away rights of children.

Archbishop Porteous is right to point out that the action taken against him is a threat to free speech in Australia.

“Across the few countries which have redefined marriage, this is what we see. People who will always believe that marriage is the gender-diverse institution that binds the love of mother and father to their children are attacked and run out of polite society”, Mr Shelton said.

“A view cannot be bigoted if it is based on defensible reasoning. It might be a different view, one some people don’t agree with, but it is not bigoted and those who hold such a view should not be punished by the law.”

“Archbishop Julian Porteous’ booklet was reasonable, based on careful arguments, and respectful. Not only that, but it actually defends the law of the land.

“If the marriage law is to change, then in combination with anti-discrimination laws, it will be a very powerful weapon to silence dissenters and punish good citizens for being  ‘bigots’ and ‘haters’.”

Mr Shelton said it was particularly concerning that the leader of the political lobby to change the definition of marriage, Australian Marriage Equality’s Rodney Croome, had urged people to report Archbishop Porteous to Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commission.