Charities defend tax deductions for helping marriage campaign
The Yes campaign is benefiting from tax-deductible donations made to partner charity organisations.
The Victorian Aids Council and Human Rights Law Centre confirmed they were accepting tax-deductible donations to help fund activities in support of a Yes vote for same-sex marriage, in partnership with the Equality Campaign.
The council says the move is in line with its “organisational purpose of improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTI communities”.
Equality Campaign executive director Tiernan Brady said the council was a “valued and proud partner of the marriage equality campaign”.
“As a health promotion charity, it is committed to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Australians,” he said. “Being treated equally under the law, including Australian marriage laws is a key determinant in the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people.”
Nationals senator and No campaigner Matt Canavan said that a health promotion charity claiming that it was legitimate for it to fund political campaigns “stretches the law to absurdity”.
“It is against the spirit of the law for a charity to use tax-deductible donations to directly fund politics,” he said. “This behaviour also distracts such groups from focusing on the genuine health needs of Australians.’’
The law centre said it was taking tax-deductible donations and forwarding funds to the Yes campaign, saying that “all Australians should be able to marry the person they love”.
Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser said the centre existed to promote human rights in Australia and had been working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community for years to achieve same-sex marriage. “We’re working very closely with the national marriage equality campaign and we are strongly backing the campaign with both personnel and financial support,” he said. “All Australians should have the same opportunities for love, commitment and happiness. All Australians should be able to marry the person they love.”
A spokeswoman for the Australian Charities and Not-forProfits Commission said charity involvement in political advocacy was a complex area, but not against the rules.
“Registered charities can promote or oppose a change to any matter of law, policy or practice, as long as this advocacy furthers its charitable purpose — otherwise known as its mission,” she said.