A TV ad against same-sex marriage is so extreme that even a Christian group has branded it as ‘fear-mongering’, ‘irresponsible’ and ‘wrong’.
Australian Christians for Marriage Equality (ACME) launched a campaign on Wednesday to distance itself from the ad, saying it did not represent the views of most Christians.
ACME said linking the two was an “admission of failure” by the No campaign.
The Coalition for Marriage TV ad features three mothers expressing their concerns about how same-sex marriage would affect what is taught and promoted in schools, linking same-sex marriage with the controversial Safe Schools program.
One of the mothers, Cella White, appeared in the ad telling viewers that her son’s school told him he “could wear a dress next year if he felt like it” as part of the teaching of the Safe Schools program.
Another mother claimed in the ad that year 7 students were being asked to role play being in a same-sex relationship.
But John Albiston, the principal of the school in question, Frankston High School, told Fairfax Media that Ms White’s claims were completely false.
“We checked with all the teachers, it never happened,” Mr Albiston told The Age.
“I have never had any complaints that we advised the boys they could wear dresses. We didn’t offer them that option.
Watch the No ad below:
Ms White also made news last year when she pulled her children from Frankston High School in 2016 over her concerns about the Safe Schools program.
A 2016 video in which she warned parents about the program went viral on social media.
“Busy parents need to look at this … it’s warping their children’s way of thinking,” she said in the video.
‘Offensive and hurtful’: Bill Shorten
Mr Shorten told Fairfax Media the ad was “offensive and hurtful to LGBTI Australians and their families”.
“This is exactly what was predicted when Malcolm Turnbull decided to waste $122 million on a postal survey. He gave the green light to this rubbish,” Mr Shorten said.
“This is not freedom of speech. This is freedom to hurt. I just want to tell LGBTI families that they are not on their own. Most people know this is total rubbish.”
But Mr Shorten went on to encourage Australians to take part in the postal survey, vowing to “campaign hard” for a “yes” vote.
Coalition for Marriage spokeswoman Sophie York issued a statement saying millions of Australians were concerned about the consequences of changing the Marriage Act, News Corp Australia reported.
“Australian parents have a right to know how a change in the marriage law will affect what their kids are taught at school,” Ms York said in the statement.
“The education departments won’t tell them. Those lobbying for change won’t tell them.”
The airing of the ad comes after two prestigious Catholic schools, Xavier College in Melbourne and Sydney’s Saint Ignatius College, wrote to parents defending gay marriage, arguing the sacrament must evolve with the times and that the Catholic Church understands marriage stretches beyond procreation.
That statement came days after Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart urged Catholics to vote against change in the upcoming postal survey on gay marriage for the “health and future” of society.