anti-gay propaganda floods mailboxes in marginal seats
Equal marriage rights have been used for political banter and sway quite a lot in recent times. In the eyes of some voters, a political party’s stance on conscience issues such as this can determine a preferred party.
Most recently, our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd change his views on gay marriage to that of support, and passionately defended himself and this stance on the ABC’s talk show Q&A. This issue has been a hot topic not just in Australian politics, but worldwide. We have seen more and more countries officially legalise gay marriage, and, conversely, we have also seen Russia’s controversial anti-gay law, and the affects that this is having on their society.
An anti-gay marriage pamphlet has been distributed in the rural seat of Indi, in north-eastern Victoria, as well as other marginal seats. Indi is held by senior Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella. Mirabella was considered safe in this position, having held the seat since 2001, but now party insiders are predicting a close finish as independent Cathy McGowan has launched a massive challenge. Mirabella currently holds a nine per cent margin.
This rural seat is now generating interest due to McGowan’s determination to bring rural issues to the forefront of politics. It has been pegged as a seat to watch as the election results are revealed on Saturday night.
As a result of this sudden fight for the seat of Indi, local residents have been more or less bombarded with pamphlets, including this controversial anti-gay pamphlet.
The pamphlet has caused controversy in that it has used children in its campaign against marriage equality. The pamphlet has been designed so that it seems that the children are fearful of how equal marriage rights could ‘damage’ society. The text of the pamphlet reads:
‘Cathy McGowan, Robyn Walsh (ALP) and the Greens…support same-sex marriage. But a man-woman marriage is special because “I need my mum and dad.” When you vote…put Cathy McGowan, Robyn Walsh and the Greens LAST.’
It has been determined that the Australian Family Party were behind this anti-gay marriage pamphlet, which, sadly, is not unique to the seat of Indi, with similar pamphlets being distributed to voters to determine the seat of Bruce and Isaacs. This sort of campaign has also been used in the past; therefore it is a reiteration of scare tactics, which will only breed a lack of progress in Australian society.
The Indi pamphlet has been credited to Jim McCormack, a member of the Diplomatic Labour Party. When asked about the pamphlet, McCormack said that it was the product of the campaign of the Australian Family Party, not the Liberal Party, thus removing any implications from Mirabella. However, both the Australian Family Party and Mirabella’s previous statements on the issue contend that marriage is to be defined as between a man and a woman, with Mirabella also stating in the past that marriage was ‘developed for the creation and raising of children.’
On the other hand, McGowan embraces the diversity of modern-day families, and has stated that this advertising campaign only further maligns young people, particularly from rural communities, ‘who are different from the norm’ (norm here meaning heterosexual, or having both a male and a female caretaker). McGowan also stated that ‘it is important to respect different people and not to kick them out but to make them belong.’
Regardless of the fact that Mirabella and the Liberal party have been publicly declared not to be behind the anti-gay marriage pamphlet, Greens candidate Jenny O’Connor doubts this to be the case. ‘This is the sort of stuff they do,’ O’Connor has stated. ‘The fact they use children in their campaign and use this issue is just disgusting.’
Perhaps even more disturbing than the use of children in a scare-tactic campaign with no fact based evidence that heterosexual parents are better than homosexual parents (in fact, evidence based on research has stated that there is actually no difference in terms of parenting between the two different sort of families; if anything, that gay parents may even be better) is the fact that this image paired with the slogan has been well-used.
It just goes to show that Australian political parties are impeding social change, acceptance and equality by promoting views that are simply untrue. Using children as political pawns is equally unethical.
Let’s just hope that if the politicians behind these sorts of advertising campaigns genuinely care about children, they stop the spread of this kind of vicious libel. It only serves to perpetuate negativity, and hinders equality. The next true test is to see what kind of affect this most recent distribution will have on the seat on Indi.