Voting against gay marriage is ‘Brexit for Australia’, campaigners say

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The Australian Family Association has urged people to vote against equal marriage to create a ‘Brexit for Australia’.

Australia is currently holding a public vote on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, at the behest of the country’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Though the Yes camp held a lead going into the vote, polling shows that the race has narrowed significantly, as anti-LGBT activists reap the rewards of a US-style scaremongering campaign and well-funded advertising blitz.

Data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that more than half of Australians have already cast a postal ballot, ahead of a November 8 deadline.

The anti-LGBT Australian Family Association has sent out a rallying call to its supporters, urging them to help secure a ‘No’ victory.

The group seized on political upsets elsewhere, comparing the decision to the UK’s vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US.

They wrote: “The ABS has released figures today estimating that 57.5 per cent of people have returned their marriage ballot paper.

“This still leaves just under half the population who have not yet voted.

“This is your chance to do a Brexit, a Trump, and confound the political elites by saying, we are not going to accept gender fluid ideology and gender fluid ‘marriage’ being forced on every man, woman and child, whether they are religious of not.”

The group encouraged people to share a leaflet “that  you can give to your children and grandchildren”

The leaflet insists: “The marriage ballot calls it same-sex marriage, but it’s really Transgender Marriage.

“Did you know that ‘yes’ will be a vote for transgender (gender fluid) marriage?

“Gender fluid means identifying as a gender other than one’s biological/birth sex. Kids are reading about gender fluid on social media and it is now being taught in some schools.

“Transgender (gender fluid) marriage would mean ‘2 people’ are eligible to marry if they are pangender, or gender queer, or non binary, etc.

“Our political elites didn’t tell us that changing anti-discrimination laws would mean boys identifying as girls using the girls’ facilities. Now we find they are telling us to vote for same-sex marriage when it’s transgender marriage.”

In reality, the vote has nothing to do with transgender issues and only decides the future of same-sex marriage.

Then again, given the overt Brexit-y undertones of the campaign, perhaps objective facts don’t mean everything.

A much-criticised bus from the Brexit campaign (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

PinkNews revealed earlier this month that the anti-LGBT Coalition for Marriage is telling activists to play to fears over gay sex and gender issues.

The Coalition for Marriage has become the primary ‘No’ campaign in the country as it heads to the polls in a postal ballot on whether to allow same-sex marriage.

The group bills itself as a “grassroots movement” that will be on “the front line to defend traditional marriage in Australia”.

At an induction session for Coalition for Marriage activists attended by a PinkNews reporter, the group’s campaign leadership played up fears over sex education and transgender issues.

The session was led by one of the group’s senior field ops chiefs, who explained to volunteers that “by taking gender out of marriage, you’re taking gender out of society”.

The campaign leader also claimed that equal marriage would be an attack on families because “the government, by default, becomes the parent”.

The officials also sought to play off fears over transgender issues, reflecting tactics which have been seen across the country – despite the postal vote being exclusively on the issue of whether gay couples should be allowed to marry.

The campaign chief falsely told activists that the vote was actually on “a package deal that will lead to more gender-bending, politically correct programs like Safe Schools”, an LGBT anti-bullying campaign that has been much-maligned by conservatives.

In a release last month the  Australian Family Association took the claims to a bizarre extreme – using fears about transgender women to try and convince lesbians to vote against equal marriage.

They claim: “Two men identifying as women and in a relationship can be legally married and be recognised as being in a lesbian marriage for the purposes of accessing lesbian only organisations, events and lesbian exclusive spaces.

“Is this the sort of ‘equality’ Australians want to impose on women and lesbians?”

Aside from the fact that they seem to think women and lesbians are two different categories of people, the group’s claims are also pure nonsense.

The proposal being voted on includes no issues affecting transgender rights whatsoever.

The ballot paper will read: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

But the AFA insisted it would mean that “men socially identifying as women can access women’s shelters and gyms… play in women’s sports, like the AFL women’s competition and the Olympic women’s competition”.

The Equality Campaign has struggled to break through a media narrative often dominated by arguments against equality.

But Tiernan Brady, Executive Director of The Equality Campaign, said: “We are in it to win it. We are committed to doing all in our power to ensure that the long held wish of the Australian people for marriage equality for all Australians is reflected in the results of the survey.

“This must be a campaign of millions of respectful conversations that unites the country.

“We haven’t a moment to lose and we are hitting the ground running with hundreds of thousands of supporters talking about why marriage equality matters.

“This is a vote about the worth, dignity and status of members of our family, friends, workmates and neighbours, and across the country people are standing up for them.

“We know that the Australian people support marriage equality but no one can be complacent – it is all about getting as many surveys returned as possible.

“We call on everyone to participate and to talk to their family and friends to make sure they do too. Together, lets get this done.”