As predicted by activists, hateful anti-gay and transphobic materials have begun appearing in Australia as the country prepares for a vote on marriage equality.
In Melbourne, a resident shared a photo of a poster against same-sex marriage that appeared in the city centre, calling on people to “stop the fags”.
The poster features a cowering blond child threatened by two figures holding rainbow belts. It claims that 92% of children raised by gay parents are abused, that 51% have depression and 72% are obese.
These so-called “statistics” are outright falsehoods. Numerous studies have found that children of same-sex families do as well, and in some cases better, than those from opposite-sex families.
Unsurprisingly, a website address included on the poster links to a neo-Nazi forum promoting racial “purity” and homophobia.
A homophobic leaflet in both English and Chinese has also come to light, calling on Australians to “say ‘NO’” to same-sex marriage legislation.
It warns that homosexuality “is a curse of death in terminating the family line,” is the main source of HIV and “is a tragedy of a family, a grave to the family bloodline, a curse of family sonlessness!”
Bizarrely, the leaflet further says that marriage equality would be a “threat to safety of women” because it would result in “transexual ‘counterfeit’ women” using women’s bathrooms. The authors claim that there’s been a spike in women being raped in bathrooms and changing rooms in countries that have legalised same-sex marriage – a complete fabrication.
In a statement, Just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said that LGBTI activists have “long warned the government that a plebiscite or postal vote on marriage equality would amplify extremist and hateful views”.
He called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, “who initiated the postal vote campaign, to take responsibility and denounce anti-LGBTI vilification like this poster”.
Croome also noted that the Australian Institute for Family Studies has stated: “Overall, research evidence indicates that children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as other children.”
He added: “The hate displayed in these posters will shock and disgust the overwhelming majority of Australians.”
The plebiscite has been called a waste of taxpayers’ money as it will not be binding and polls already show that a large majority of Australians support same-sex marriage. Instead, activists want the government to allow its MPs to freely vote on a marriage equality bill in Parliament, where it would almost certainly pass.
Despite their opposition to the poll, marriage equality groups have begun their campaigns. One video features Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe and his partner Ryan Channing urging voters who back marriage equality to update their details in the electoral roll by the deadline of 24 August, ahead of the vote.