The Chronicle - - NEWS -

THERE is a very easy way for the same-sex mar­riage lobby to win next month’s public vote. Just prove you aren’t bul­lies.

Prove you aren’t as in­tol­er­ant as the gay-mar­riage thugs who last week at­tacked Chris­tian stu­dents at Syd­ney Univer­sity, pelt­ing them with food, dye and glit­ter and over­turn­ing their ta­ble and tear­ing up their posters.

Don’t sim­ply dis­miss fears that le­gal­is­ing same-sex mar­riage will li­cense a wave of more such bul­ly­ing, this time by politi­cians.

Don’t just scoff at fears we’ll next get laws pun­ish­ing priests who won’t per­form gay wed­dings, bak­ers who won’t bake the wed­ding cakes or peo­ple who sim­ply say they dis­ap­prove.

Such fears are not “com­plete red her­rings”, as Lib­eral front­bencher Christo­pher Pyne claimed. Former prime min­is­ter John Howard was right in at­tack­ing this de­cep­tive non­sense: “Those cam­paign­ing for a Yes vote call any ref­er­ence to th­ese is­sues ‘red her­rings’ or dis­trac­tions. On the con­trary, they are le­git­i­mate con­cerns.”

And what makes them le­git­i­mate is not just that lead­ing Yes cam­paign­ers refuse to say how — or even if — they will pro­tect free­dom of re­li­gion and speech.

In­stead, they have done the op­po­site. Last week, the Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment — with La­bor’s help — passed “emer­gency” laws lim­it­ing free speech dur­ing this postal plebiscite. Banned will be any vil­i­fi­ca­tion, in­tim­i­da­tion and threats, how­ever loosely de­fined. But why have lead­ing Yes cam­paign­ers re­fused to con­demn the vil­i­fi­ca­tion, in­tim­i­da­tion and threats of their own side?

Why have none de­nounced the Cottes­loe Ten­nis Club in Perth for dump­ing ten­nis great Mar­garet Court as co-pa­tron for op­pos­ing same-sex mar­riage?

Why have none crit­i­cised the Yes cam­paign­ers who a week ago stopped Chris­tians from at­tend­ing a meet­ing at a Bris­bane church?

Why haven’t they de­fended Ade­laide’s Tem­ple Chris­tian Col­lege, whose switch­board was bom­barded with vile mes­sages last week af­ter re­ports that its prin­ci­pal had urged a No vote?

Why have none protested at the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion back­ing gay mar­riage with­out con­sult­ing its mem­bers first?

All this and more is a grave warn­ing that Yes cam­paign­ers are not hor­ri­fied by such in­tol­er­ance.

So what more do they plan? How safe is our free speech?

If that’s re­ally a “red her­ring”, then let lead­ing same-sex mar­riage ac­tivists prove it. Show us ex­actly what free­doms they’ll pro­tect, and how.

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