An anti-LGBTQ attack ad aired in Australia on Tuesday night warning that same-sex marriage will turn the country’s children transgender.
Ahead of a national straw poll on marriage equality set to be conducted in September, the 30-second segment claims that a “Yes” could have destructive consequences. Cella White, a mother of four, tells the camera that her son’s school said he “could wear a dress next year if he felt like it.”
Another mother warns that the recognition of same-sex relationships in other countries has led to the “compulsory” adoption of gender non-conformity in schools.
A third claims that children in schools are already asked by teachers “to role play being in a same-sex relationship,” suggesting that this curriculum could become widespread if a same-sex marriage bill were to pass.
“In countries with gay marriage, parents have lost their right to choose,” the ad concludes in black-and-white title card. “We have a choice. You can say no.”
The commercial was produced by the right-wing Coalition for Marriage, a Christian lobby group which claims on its website that religious people in favor of “traditional marriage” are being discriminated against. “People’s careers are being harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster are being excluded, and schools are expected to teach the new definition to children,” its site reads.
“People should not feel pressurised [sic] to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness,” the Coalition elsewhere claims.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham condemned the attack ad in a Wednesday speech delivered to the press. He claims that the commercial conflates an upcoming plebiscitein which Australians will be polled on their views of same-sex marriagewith the country’s Safe Schools program. That curriculum teaches students acceptance of LGBTQ identities.
“Look, there is only one question on the ballot paper: ‘Should same-sex marriage be allowed in Australia?’” Birmingham says, calling the ad “patently ridiculous.”
Although 61 percent of Australians support marriage equality, the country Down Under is one of the few English-speaking nations where same-sex unions have yet to be legalized. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he won’t consider allowing a free vote in the Parliament until Australians are able to sound off on the issue. That poll, which is non-binding, will begin on September 12.
LGBTQ groups, however, opposed putting civil rights up to a public vote, arguing that it would invite incendiary rhetoric from religious extremists.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten claimed in a statement that the attack ad proved advocates right, calling it “offensive and hurtful.” Shorten, who represents the country’s Labor Party, accused Turnbull of “giving the green light to this rubbish.”
This isn’t the first instance of anti-LGBTQ backlash in recent weeks.
After the plebiscite was announced, news reports claimed that posters advising conservatives to “Stop the Fags” were “plastered all over Melbourne.” The flier, which depicts two men holding rainbow belts in front of a hunched over little boy, claims that 92 percent of children raised in same-sex households are abused by their parents. (Note: Some reports have questioned the legitimacy of those posters.)
Australians will have until November 7 to vote on marriage equality. After that time, Parliament will consider the public’s recommendation.