Melbourne And Sydney Divided As Gay Marriage Vote In Australia Nears

Grace Carr | Reporter

As Australia nears a landmark vote on legalizing gay marriage, many opposed to the legislation are expressing their opposition while wreaking noticeable havoc in the form of mass distribution of posters and flyers.

After the Senate gave the green light for a voluntary vote at the request of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in early August, the political climate has become increasingly tense as the country creeps closer to a vote to determine if same-sex couples will be able to legally marry. Flyers proclaiming that homosexuality is “a tragedy of a family,” and “a curse of death” have been circulating through Melbourne and Sydney, according to the New York Times. Other posters read “stop the fags,” and claim that children who grow up in homosexual households experience emotional problems.

Turnbull denounced the flyers, but said that people will “often say things that are hurtful and unfair and sometimes cruel, but that is part of a debate.” He added however, that he “deplore[s] disrespectful, abusive language whether it is directed at young gay people, or other religions or other races.”

“We’re seeing this really distressing imagery and language vilification of L.G.T.B.I. people,” said Sally Rugg, the marriage equality campaign director at activist organization GetUp. The flyers aren’t solely responsible for stirring things up in Australia, however, for the Catholic Church has loudly rejected the upcoming vote and what may come from it.

“I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage,” said Denis Hart, the Archbishop of Melbourne, according to the Sunday Morning Herald. “Any words or actions which work contrary to that would be viewed very seriously,” he added, noting that employees of the Church — there are roughly 180,000 in Australia — who marry a same-sex partner will very possibly be fired for acting defiantly. “Our teachers, our parish employees are expected totally to uphold the Catholic faith and what we believe about marriage. People have to see in words and in example that our teaching of marriage is underlined,” he added.

Australians who wish to cast a ballot have until the end of Wednesday to register. Some think the vote will do nothing, as it is not legally binding, and others — including those who support gay marriage — think it will simply expose gays to more discrimination than they already receive.

“This $122 million exercise is an amazing waste of money,” Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said Monday. “And it will trigger and give license to some really horrible things to be said.”

“It is a shame that everyday moms and dads are being called bigots and haters simply for their genuine belief that marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Dr. Pansy Lai, leader of the Australian Chinese for Families Association.

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