A pro gay marriage rally in Australia
Australia is set to have a nationwide vote on whether to legalize gay marriage. Many are in support, but the opposition has been ugly.

Let's say you are opposed to same-sex marriage, and are trying to prevent it from becoming law. You want to bring people over to your point of view, but polite tactics aren't working. How far is it OK to go? That's precisely the question Australia is facing in the leadup to a nationwide vote on same-sex marriage.

While most of the opposition has been relatively tame, a number of nasty ads and fliers opposing LGBT rights have begun popping up. Unsurprisingly, the provocative messages quickly went viral on social media. Take this one, for example:

Spotted in Melbourne - Heffernan Lane. How is this for a unity moment? @TurnbullMalcolm @cityofmelbourne @AdamBandt @VicGovAu @abcnews pic.twitter.com/syL7vqRJLK

Dan Leach-McGill (@DanLMcG) August 19, 2017

Hateful Rhetoric

The posters have angered many Australians, eliciting a strong response from LGBT rights advocates and lawmakers alike.

Among the voices of condemnation was the country's prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Responding to the posters, he said: "I deplore disrespectful, abusive language whether it is directed at young gay people or people of other religions or other races. If you have friends who are really distressed by this sort of language, stand up for them, put your arms around them."

However, Turnbull refused to have the messages taken down, arguing that they were an expression of free speech.

"People will often say in any democratic debate, they'll often say things that are hurtful and unfair and sometimes cruel, but that is part of a debate. The only way to stop people saying things that you find hurtful is to shut down free speech." That is not an acceptable option, he said.

Clear Message

There was a common theme that spanned across all the anti-gay marriage messages: homosexuality is evil. To bolster its cause, the campaign has cited a number of questionable statistics. Among them are claims that "92% of children raised by gay parents are abused, 51% have depression, and 72% are obese."

In addition to the inflammatory posters, opponents distributed pamphlets claiming that homosexuality is "a tragedy of a family" and a "curse of death in terminating the family line." The pamphlets were printed in multiple languages in an apparent effort to reach as many people as possible.

Anti-gay marriage pamphlet

Christian Roots?

Although no group or individual has come forth as the author of the campaign, there have been rumors circulating. The rhetoric used bears striking similarity to that of certain anti-gay Christian groups leading some to belief that the movement is religiously motivated. However, news outlets have been unable to confirm this fact. For now, the true architects of the campaign remain a mystery.

Religious Decline in Australia

One thing is certain: Australians are less religious now than ever before. Although the country has a strong Christian history, a 2011 survey showed that only 61% of Australians identified as having some form of religious affiliation. By 2016 a mere five years later, that number had dropped to 52%. This surprising trend shows no sign of reversing.

Perhaps that's the bigger story. If indeed a Christian group is behind the crude anti-gay posters, it could be a sign that once-popular religious institutions are now struggling. They might view gay marriage as a symbol of religious decline, and are thus pushing back extra hard against the idea.

Or it's possible that opposition to marriage equality in Australia stems from the age-old sentiment that gay marriage will irreparably harm the family values which support a moral society.

No matter the reasoning, it appears to be a fruitless effort polls show that the majority of the country now favors allowing same-sex couples to marry. Nevertheless, opponents seem determined to fight this one out to the end. **Are the posters an example of free speech gone too far, or is "Stop the Fags" fair game? What is your reaction?


  1. James's Avatar James

    Marriage is a union of two things to make a 3rd thing. Like welding or epoxy. But in my opinion :why is the govt involved in marriage at all? Is a religious union. The rest is legal poop. So get a lawyer and sign the paper. Wills fix the death issue, insurance can be bought for anyone. So again, who have the govt the authority to marry anyone? Now go be gay, straight, big colored sexual freaky things. No one really cares. I know I don't. Just so trying to force me to like you, include, coexist, or approve of your stuff. It's yours, screw everyone else. Peace be you and mine your very own business. See world peace!

    1. tom's Avatar tom

      The main reason government feels the need to be involved in marriage is to deal with property (what belong to who) and custody (children, the pet dog, etc.) rights if the relationship should end either by death of one of the parties or divorce or separation or whatever. I agree that government has little or no business with the formation of a marriage but it is wise to have a pre-nup agreement which requires only an attorney and if you want icing on the cake get a minister to talk god into blessing it or at the very least be benign about the union go for it.

      1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

        James and tom, you both came pretty close to why government is involved. It has to do with the only thing that matters to government, and this is money in the form of taxes. Taxes change when filing as a married couple versus single. And then you get into the issue of tax breaks for married couples with children. If a gay couple adopts a child, and the state does not recognize the union, who gets to claim the child? Other than stuff like that, government has no interest.

      2. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        I am an attorney dealing with all aspects of family law...i feel that if you feel the need for a pre-nuptial agreement, money is too important to you, and you should not get married...signing an agreement is like being paranoid about your business partner...so why be partners...

  1. James's Avatar James

    Christians don't have to approve, accept, exclude, pity or include anyone. Just because someone doesn't agree with your opinion, and their opinion offends you does not mean it's hatred. In my opinion everyone needs to grow up and be adults

    1. Cindy's Avatar Cindy

      Agreed 100%

    2. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

      James, you are correct, sir. I realize this is talking about Australia, but I assume they have an equivalent to the First Amendment. I was always taught the First Amendment does not protect what I want to say, but rather, it protects what someone else wants to say that I don't want to hear. It works better if you think of it that way. Most of us walk around thinking what we say doesn't need 1A protection because it's right.

  1. Cindy's Avatar Cindy

    It's not our place to judge! We are to love if you agree the the lifestyle they chose or don't agree,its their life. Personally I don't care one way or the other and I have friends who live this lifestyle.

    1. tom's Avatar tom

      I agree with you so long as you apply what Thomas Jefferson is said to have said, essentially you can do whatever you want so long as "it does not break my leg or pick my pocket." As long as your lifestyle choice does me no physical harm or cost me financially (for instance, funds extracted from citizens to fund someone's lifestyle choice and any results of that lifestyle choice).

  1. Christopher L Wood's Avatar Christopher L Wood

    Same sex marriage is not nor ever will be debatable. All you have accomplished is set forth is one word tolerance. While you scholars, minister's, parishioners, sling words back and forth on the issue the final judgment is and never will be yours to decide, that belongs to God why do continue to beat this issue in the ground. I'm weary of long winded debaters your opinions hold no standing on what God has said.. For myself I've closed this issue I suggest all of you do the same. God closed that issue with lot.

    1. Clayton Beardmore's Avatar Clayton Beardmore

      You're right! This issue is closed (and has been for quite a while).

    2. Kathleen Baird's Avatar Kathleen Baird

      Lot? The "good & righteous man" saved by God when Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed? The one who went to his door and spoke to a mob of men, who wanted to see the Angels visiting him, and told them, "I have virgin daughters who have not known man. Take them and do with them as you see fit", just stop beating on my door. (Genesis 3) A quote I LOVE aimed at the sanctimonious: "So sorry a gay marriage is disrespectful.of your 4th marriage". As for losing the family bloodline, there is artificial insemination or host mothers to carry it on.

    3. Enz's Avatar Enz

      Lot had to do a lot with heterosexual sin. Also what makes you think that heterosexual sin wasn't the reason for the flood? Also in the old times everybody was heterosexual or the majority were so of course the Bible will say marriage is heterosexual because that's all that was there. So using this argument of "God wouldn't approve of marriage equality" is dumb. Of course he wouldn't recognize it because LGBT people were the minority and still today I'm the minority. Also what else do you say? That LGBT aren't meant to exist because everybody always assumes everybody is heterosexual? They assume everybody is heterosexual because majority of people in our society are heterosexuals. Just like people recognized marriage as heterosexual because majority of people are heterosexuals. Like does it make sense to you that people would assume everybody is a minority? Like people in the past wouldn't assume a woman would marry a woman because it didn't exist in the past.

      1. KL Williams's Avatar KL Williams

        In all Abrahamic religions: God is in the genitalia, but Christ is in the Crotch!

    4. tom's Avatar tom

      In a general population sexuality is a continuum. Pick whatever extremes you want. Hedonism at one end with total abstinence at the other. You'll find all sorts of choices in between some that are benign while others can be violent and results in disease. Do what you want just don't send me the bill.

      By the way, there are no issues that are beyond debate. Everything is open for discussion. God doesn't have much room to talk since he doesn't even enforce his own laws. Remember the adultery and conspiracy to commit murder in the David and Bathsheba tale. God apologists will point out the bad things that happened in David's life afterwards but God's law was clear of what should happen to David not to those around him. I guess that if you are a member of the elite and the ruling class God grants you special favors to get away with sins. No wonder the Northern Tribes left.

  1. Jerry Spencer's Avatar Jerry Spencer

    In GOD word talk about a man and woman to be married to have a child. These other marriages is not in GOD's will.

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    We are all equal, with the same rights in life...religion should have nothing to do with anything...marriage is a temporal institution; in no way is it ordered by God...people who attack other people's peaceful view of life, when it differs from theirs, are having trouble with their own lives...

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    I expect no moderation=censorship...thank you...

  1. Beth K's Avatar Beth K

    What about marriages where one or both parties cannot have a child? If the woman is past menopause? If the woman has had a hysterectomy? If the man's sperm count is too low (or zero)? If the man had his testicles removed due to testicular cancer? If the man is too unhealthy for sex, or physically cannot do it?

    Would you really declare your parents or grandparents marriage to be not in God's will? Would you separate them? What ever happened to "for better or worse... till death do us part"?

    1. John Maher's Avatar John Maher


  1. Enz's Avatar Enz

    Heterosexual people need to just leave LGBT people alone and let them be. If you don't like who lgbt are then don't talk or be their friends. Also only befriend people in heterosexual lifestyles if you hate LGBT. The lifestyle of heterosexuality is a choice people make and if people don't choose to practice a heterosexual lifestyle then don't judge them.

    1. tom's Avatar tom

      I thought LGBT have been saying they were born with their particular tendency but now you are referring to heterosexuality as a lifestyle. If it's a lifestyle (a choice) for one sexual proclivity isn't it a lifestyle for all. I wish everyone would get their story straight.

  1. Rhonda R Lewis's Avatar Rhonda R Lewis

    Jesus said love one another as I loved you! The Bible clearly states that Homosexuality is a sin! But the Bible said judge not lest you be judge. As a Minister of Christ, I don't agree with homosexual activity, but I will love and not judge, but will speak truth in love. Hateful rederic is wrong. Its uncalled for. Jesus gives us a choice the right path or the wrong path, they have a choice. But we are to love. God bless all

    1. Rev. CC's Avatar Rev. CC

      Amen and why are LGBT sins greater than our own? Hmmmm. Sounds like some folks forgot about the plank in their eyes.

  1. Bill Fox's Avatar Bill Fox

    Homosexual marriage is not the beginning of falling away from organized religion. I was raised Methodist and participated my first thirteen years. Then the 1960s happened. Many things in religion apply to the believer first. So, if one is against a secular issue, then they should not do or participate. Once the homosexual learns that the religious people cannot be forced to embrace perversion (any more than the pervert can embrace not being perverted) then they will realize they hurt their cause by forcing their belief on the religious. Are perverts flocking to religion because they are being yelled at and threatened with hell? No, of course not. It works both ways. Huge setbacks for LGBT have taken place because of attempts to force the religious to embrace the perversion. The Equal Rights Amendment not only failed, some states retracted their votes for it. President Clinton set LGBT back twenty years with the Defense of Marriage and Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, because the religious intimidated him and did not want a repeat of the Equal Rights Amendment debacle. The global effort to secularly institutionalize LGBT is forcing the majority (who are not perverts) to re-think the movement and push back. When an LGBT person attacks the religious, all religions are being attacked and they represent 90% of all people.

  1. Suzanne Yates's Avatar Suzanne Yates

    It is not hate speech. People against it just does not want more people to go to hell and are trying to stop it. One day they will see that those against it actually cared about them.

  1. Jim D.'s Avatar Jim D.

    I know I've proposed this before, but I'll do it again for those that missed it. If you don't like gay marriage, then don't marry someone of the same gender. That's it. Very simple.

    I'll just touch on the points of the article and try to put them in the proper perspective, starting with hateful rhetoric. Is what they anti-LGBT groups saying hateful rhetoric? In many cases, yes. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths is downright deplorable. You wonder how they can kiss their children goodnight with those mouths. Is it First Amendment protected (or whatever the Australian equivalent is)? In many cases, yes. Just because you don't like the message doesn't mean you get to shut it down. 1A goes both ways, kind of like the B in LGBT. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Does it rise to the level of hate speech? If it calls for violence, yes. And then it should be dealt with swiftly and severely. There is no excuse for violence against others, no matter what the reason.

    The section on the "clear message?" Well, we all no statistics can be manipulated to look like whatever you want. In fact, 87 percent of statistics are fabricated without a bit of research. And in case you're wondering, yes, I fabricated that 87 percent number. See how easy it is? When put under the microscope of scrutiny, none of the statistics stated are credible. It's all bunk.

    As for the anti-gay groups being Christian based, I'm sure many of them are. I'm also sure many of them could be Muslim groups, also known for having a strong anti-gay sentiment. I'm not aware of any anti-gay Jewish groups, but there are no hard and fast rules about it. All of this sort of leads to the last item, which is the decline of religion in Australia, and I would say, all over the world. Why? Because we are growing up, as a species. Thousands of years ago, it didn't matter if you were Roman, Greek, Viking or an African tribesman. We believed in many gods. That was how we explained everything around us. Sun gods, moon gods, rain gods, thunder and lightning gods... we had a god to explain everything. That is, until we started to figure things out. As we quench our thirst for knowledge, we figure where rain comes from, how celestial bodies move about the heavens... in essence, we figure out how things work. Gods are replaced by knowledge. And these days, with technology being what it is, we explain more and more about our universe every day. Of course, there are loads of things we don't know... yet. But that doesn't mean we should explain them as the machinations of a supreme being. Many will, because that's what they have been taught, or it's what they need to get through the day, and that is faith: the belief in something without proof. And no, you can't use that which you believe in as proof of that which you believe in. That's like defining a word and using the word in the definition.

    As for what the Bible tells us, I will remind you the Bible was not written by God. The Bible was written 500 years ago by a group of scholarly men (and no women, which is probably why they are treated so poorly and like property in the Bible) who interpreted a collection of scrolls written in Ancient Greek, Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Aramaic. Languages that have been so long dead that we cannot suss out the true meanings of words and phrases used. And they didn't use all the scrolls, only the ones that suited them at the time. So, it's a book of stories meant to teach moral lessons, or it's book of brainwashing designed to keep the masses in line for the powerful elite. You decide.

  1. caliwebman's Avatar caliwebman

    We place way to much importance upon an age old tradition that simply no longer fits modern day society. Honestly, how many younger people have you seen been able to keep a marriage together? First we must understand that the idea of marriage came about sometime around the 12th century (Years 1101-1201) when the average age at death was 31.1 years old (BBC). You'd figure even though many married at a younger age back then, that it would successful because even marrying at the age of 15 would have only given you 15 years to live with your spouse. Now fast forward to current times. Today we live at a time when the average age at death is 78.7 years old (OECD Report) or nearly three times what it was in the 12th century when marriage was invented.

    It is a system of courtship that was invented at a time when a couple could plan on spending 10-15 years of their lives together, yet that same system applies at a time when we are expected to spend 60+ years with our significant other. Combine these facts with the way in which society/people as a whole have sped up in recent times and you have a sure fire recipe for failure. Not to forget that in modern times marriage just doesn't have the great appeal that it once had and I'm just not sure we consider it such a sacred bond as we once did. There is no doubt that there should be a collective move in a direction to revamp the whole embodiment of marriage, whether to include Gay/Bi/Trans or not but perhaps more importantly to reel it in to becoming a union that works in this modern age.

    As one example of how bad things have become I have a brother who is on his 8th or 9th marriage! (I lost track somewhere between his 6th and 7th).

    So with this all said, done and known now, What should we do? How might we re-write the socio laws of marriage to fit better with today's modern day needs?

    (As for the LGBT movement upon marriage I should just remind us ALL, about the original Trinity of Life. That being a man, a woman, and a child. None, I repeat NONE, not one single one of us got here without this trinity.) This in it of itself should be highly respected.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Solutions?

  1. Dawn Pisturino's Avatar Dawn Pisturino

    If you are a Christian or a Muslim, same-sex marriage defies the will of God. It certainly goes against the teachings of Christ. Transgender is a recognized mental disorder. These people have always been on the fringe, and they will stay there. Normal people understand when something is abnormal.

  1. DJ's Avatar DJ

    If a religious group is behind this horrible discrimination, then it's no wonder people are leaving religion. It's time to stop citing differences & accept all people as children of God. We are all created by the same Source.

    1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

      Rev.DJ...i agree...we are all the same as infinite souls...the differences are illusory...Tom

  1. Robert Glencoe's Avatar Robert Glencoe

    The study cited in the poster (Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents) has received widespread criticism from the academic community - even the journal it was published in (Depression Research and Treatment) later issued a statement of concern, noting that the study was flawed, citing: "...the study’s small sample of same-sex parents, the lack of discussion of other influences such as family breakup on the wellbeing of the children included in the study, the implied causation in the title “Invisible Victims,” and the potential conflict of interest implied by the author’s position as a Catholic priest"

  1. Robert Glencoe's Avatar Robert Glencoe

    The study cited in the "Stop the Fags" poster (Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents) has received widespread criticism from the academic community - even the journal it was published in (Depression Research and Treatment) later issued a statement of concern, noting that the study was flawed, citing:

    "...the study’s small sample of same-sex parents, the lack of discussion of other influences such as family breakup on the wellbeing of the children included in the study, the implied causation in the title “Invisible Victims,” and the potential conflict of interest implied by the author’s position as a Catholic priest" (Depression Research and Treatment 2017, p.1).

    I've attached a link to the article below, from the DOAJ (which should mean that anyone can access it), if anyone is interested:

    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drt/2016/2410392/ (Original article; note the 'Expression of Concern' pinned to the top)

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