They say, freedom of speech is the first of all other freedoms. Why? Because it is one of the primary cornerstones of a free society and one of the key reasons for the flourishing of Western Civilisation. Benjamin Franklin said, “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”
There has been growing concerns that freedom of speech is under threat with the rise of the LGBT movement and the legalisation of same-sex marriage. As we will list below, there has been numerous examples of bullying and harassment of Australians who simply voice their opinion that they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman — and if it’s bad now, how much worse will it get if same-sex marriage is legalised?
Here are 12 examples of freedom of speech under attack in Australia…
Pansy Lai, a GP in northern Sydney, has been subject to a petition organised by GetUp! seeking her deregistration and has been inundated with phone and social media threats since she appeared in the first advertisement for the NO campaign. Dr Lai told The Australian she had reported to police one threat that she would be shot “this week”.
She also said her supporters in the Australian-Chinese community were “very alarmed and concerned that someone is trying to destroy my livelihood just because I spoke up for family values”.
Australia’s High Court declined to consider the case of an Iraq War veteran who was sacked from the Army Reserves for criticising gender and sexuality diversity policies, including its support for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Bernard Gaynor initially won an unfair dismissal case against the Australian Defence Force in 2015, arguing that his right to free speech had been breached when he was sacked two years earlier over his public comments.
However, the full bench of the Federal Court overturned that ruling earlier this year, saying the ADF had been within its rights to dump him for making statements contrary to its values.
Mr Gaynor said the defeat did not just affect him personally, and it meant that employers now owned the political views of their workers.
“If the organisation you work for supports policies that require ‘respect’, ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ — the buzzwords of the politically correct push for homosexual marriage — you can be lawfully sacked for supporting the No campaign,” he said.
A lighthearted innocuous debate on gay marriage between two Liberal MP’s backed by Coopers and the Bible Society ignited a firestorm of controversy back in March this year.
It all started when Coopers Brewery, along with the Bible Society, appeared to be behind the release of a video (see below) on same-sex marriage called “Keeping it Light”.
The video shows Liberals MPs Tim Wilson — openly gay and pro-same-sex marriage — and Andrew Hastie — a conservative Christian and marriage traditionalist — engaged in a calm debate on the contentious issue while sharing a few Coopers light ales.
To coincide with the campaign, Coopers issued a commemorative light beer celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bible Society, complete with the society’s logo on cans and Bible inscriptions on the packaging.
The backlash was swift and brutal, with hundreds of posts and tweets (with the hashtag #boycottcoopers) accusing the video of homophobia and promoting an anti-gay marriage mantra. Many vowed that a Coopers beer would never touch their lips again.
About a dozen hotels in Sydney and Melbourne announced via social media their decision to cease selling Coopers products.
Coopers Brewery released a video statement distancing themselves from the Bible Society and affirming their support for ‘marriage equality’. They also cancelled its new range of commemorative cans celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bible Society.
The family of Heidi McIvor who fronts a national TV campaign opposing same-sex marriage has been vilified on social media and their church threatened with violence by LGBTI activists.
The parents of two have been accused of spreading hate speech and being morally bankrupt. Their names and phone numbers have been splashed all over Facebook, resulting in Mr McIvor being hit with a steady stream of abuse.
“I hope he hasn’t got children that have his DNA,” one Facebook post read, and another, “Let’s burn there (sic) church.”
The ad features three mothers talking about politically correct sexuality education, such as the Safe Schools program, which has been criticised for teaching gender fluidity and crossing the line between education and advocacy in the classroom.
Ms McIvor says, “What does worry me though is that it seems that no one can put forward an alternative opinion about marriage without it descending into personal attacks and threats.”
Gay couple Ben Rogers and Mark Poidevin oppose same-sex marriage and feel their views are immediately dismissed as ‘homophobic’.
Both are happy to express their views, but say their honesty has come at a cost.
“The campaign’s gotten nasty on both sides and I think the comments that I hear are, ‘You’re a homophobe if you don’t support gay marriage,'” Mark said.
“I’m a gay person here that’s coming out and saying, ‘Well, no it’s not. It’s your right to have a view, your right to have a view either way and people should be respected‘.
“You’re not intolerant if you don’t support a view.”
Cella White, was one of three mothers featured in the Coalition for Marriage’s debut TV ad and made the claim that her son was told he could wear a dress to school next year if he wanted. Media outrage ensued.
The press ran articles of the principal of Frankston High flatly denying Ms White’s claim. “We checked with all the teachers; it never happened,” John Albiston said. “I have never had any complaints that we advised the boys they could wear dresses. We didn’t offer them that option.”
However, here’s one critical detail missing from the medias narrative. That detail? The Safe Schools program the school is part of indeed includes material saying boys should be allowed to wear a dress to school. Check the poster.
And the Safe Schools material itself suggests girls wear boys’ uniforms. See page 32 of the All Of Us program manual.
It seems the commitment of many journalists to same-sex marriage is so fierce they cannot see or report evidence that doesn’t suit their agenda. This, sadly, means opponents who still dare to speak up will get smashed.
In November 2015, a LGBT activist lodged a complaint under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 about the distribution of the Don’t Mess With Marriage booklet, which was a pastoral letter from the Australian Catholic Bishops outlining the Church’s teaching on marriage, in Catholic schools in Tasmania.
The complaint was made against Archbishop Porteous and all the Australian Catholic Bishops, and followed a call to action by Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome, who urged teachers and parents to make a complaint to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner about the pastoral letter.
I urge everyone who finds [the Catholic booklet featuring teaching on traditional marriage] offensive and inappropriate, including teachers, parents and students, to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.
The reason complainants were encouraged to make complaints in Tasmania is because its anti-discrimination laws are the broadest in the country. The laws make it an offence to engage in conduct which offends, humiliates or insults someone on the basis of their ‘sexual orientation’ if it is reasonable to anticipate that person might be offended, humiliated or insulted. Intention is not relevant to the law, nor is the reasonableness of a person taking offense. The only requirement for reasonableness is whether it would be reasonable to anticipate that a person could be offended.
The Commissioner concluded that the complaint had enough merit to proceed to a full investigation, and so the parties proceeded to a conciliation process in an attempt to resolve the matter.
Given that the law which permitted the complaint remains in force, a statement from the Archdiocese of Hobart said that the Commissioner’s raises a number of issues which remained unanswered, in particular the ability of the Church to freely express its view on marriage.
Presbyterian pastor Campbell Markham has been hauled before Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination commissioner following a complaint about his comments on same-sex marriage.
The comments were made back in 2011, at a time of intense debate in Hobart. “Back then Hobart was a bit of a hotspot on these issues,” says Markham. As the convenor of the Presbyterian Church of Tasmania Social Justice committee, he has been expected to take a lead on controversial issues.
Markham is not hostile to the complainant, but rather concerned about the State’s law which has a low bar for complaints, and the readiness of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to allow the complaint to move forward.
Possible sanctions that the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner can impose range from Markham being told to take down his blog, to his having to undergo sensitivity training, or face a fine.
Following a social media campaign led by LGBT activist Simon Hunt (aka Pauline Pantsdown), an Australian Christian Lobby Event was cancelled at its advertised venue, the Airport Mercure Hotel in Sydney, back in September last year.
The Mercure tweeted “The ACL have advised their event will no longer be held at Mercure Sydney Airport due to safety and security concerns for guests and staff.”
“Post cited safety and security concerns for hotel guests and staff as the reason for the cancellation, telling SameSame that they had received a number of phone calls in addition to the social media posts.
“When asked if the decision to cancel was brought about by the hotel, or the Australian Christian Lobby, Post indicated it was a joint decision, telling SameSame it had been ‘reviewed on all parts.’”
The Australian reports that “the campaign by marriage-equality advocates had forced the company to close the hotel’s Facebook page, sparked phone calls that disturbed hotel staff and escalated the problem to the company’s headquarters. ‘We’ve conducted an objective review regarding the safety and security of our hotel guests and staff,’ she said. ‘Following this review the event will no longer take place next week.’”
Pantsdown told his Facebook followers “Thanks to everyone who took part in shutting down this event by the dangerous, predatory abusers known as the Australian Christian Lobby.” Pantsdown asked campaigners who had changed the star rating of the hotel online to go back and re-edit it.
Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.
The move led the Christian group to warn the onus was on the university sector, as a national pillar of freedom of speech, to back its academics against political pressure from LGBTI activists.
Mr Barnett, who tweets as “mikeybear”, re-posted the list of directors of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, a training organisation established by the Australian Christian Lobby, and singled out Macquarie University senior research associate Steve Chavura as a member of the LMI board. Mr Barnett said he did not know if LMI or Dr Chavura had ever issued any anti-gay material, but said “I don’t think they are going to be running floats down Mardi Gras.”
— Michael Barnett (@mikeybear) March 27, 2017
“I think it’s a bad look for the tweeter, seeking to destroy the career of someone who has engaged in no abuse, no inflammatory speech whatsoever,” Dr Chavura said of Mr Barnett.
Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia was targeted by militant gay rights activists earlier this year who condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a Christian organisation.
Activists have criticised the IT giant and Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby, suggesting that his role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians, is incompatible with IBM’s public support on the issue. IBM are active supporters of Australian Marriage Equality, and their chief executives were among 20 corporate leaders to sign an unprecedented letter lobbying Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage.
Leading anti-discrimination lawyer Mark Fowler said employees with religious beliefs in conflict with their employers’ stand on marriage equality were particularly exposed.
“In NSW and SA there are currently no laws protecting individuals from expressing their religious beliefs,” Mr Fowler said. “Nor are there religious protections for individuals under commonwealth laws.” Fowler said.
Mr Barnett said he had nothing against Mr Allaby personally but his links with the Australian Christian Lobby meant he was a “target for equality campaigners like me”.
Australia Post employees have the right to refuse distribution of any defamatory or offensive material which may accompany the divisive Yes and No campaigns for the marriage postal survey.
A spokesman for the national postal service today clarified the company’s rules around material distribution after a letter from the postie’s union warned of risks to the welfare of workers forced to deliver pamphlets or letters they deem offensive.
The clarification comes as a letter from the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union warned the “heightened risk” to the welfare of workers forced to deliver the marriage survey or campaign material if it is against their beliefs.
If the threat to freedom of speech is bad now for people who disagree with same-sex marriage, what’s going to happen after it’s legalised?