Gay Times

Australia’s same-sex marriage debate has brought out the worst in bigots.

Critics of the non-binding postal vote on marriage equality argued that the procedure would not only be costly, but that it would also lead to an increase in homophobic backlash in the country – which it seems it has.

Although polls predict a massive win for equality, the LGBTI Legal Service have collected over 220 examples of hate speech that have taken place during the postal plebiscite, which ran from 12 September to 7 November.

“Unfortunately, throughout the Marriage Law Postal Survey it has been virtually impossible for anyone who identifies as queer to avoid exposure to views which condemn who they are as a person,” said Matilda Alexander, president of the LGBTI Legal Service.

“The Postal Survey has opened the door to homophobia and vilification being expressed under the guise of legitimate debate.

“Instead of a legitimate debate, the LGBTI community has had to put up with weeks of destructive commentary which only takes society backwards on the progress which has lead to broader acceptance of LGBTI people in the last 30 years.”

The LGBTI Legal Service monitored social media, news websites and public spaces as well as receiving submissions of hate speech from community members.

According to GSN, the homophobic incidents recorded by the Service ranged from bigoted posts on social media to anti-LGBT posters being put up in public spaces by neo-Nazi groups.

Results of the same-sex marriage survey will be announced on 15 November, and while polls suggest a positive outcome, the campaign has had its ugly moments, with priests declaring ‘all gays should be shot’ and MPs telling LGBT+ people to “stop being delicate little flowers”.

Related: Gay student campaigns against same-sex marriage, says it will “destroy” Australia

It meant that when a marriage equality flash mob in Melbourne took place, it was a much needed bit of light relief.

What’s more, Darcy Byrne, mayor of Sydney’s Inner West area, announced that if Australia said yes for the upcoming national survey, she would promise free use of public facilities as venues for same-sex marriages in the area.