Kevin Rudd’s Godson Sean Foster

“There is no doubt that there has been some ugliness as part of this debate but I regret to say that nearly all of it seems to be coming from one side and that is the people who tell us that love is love.”

That’s former prime minister and prominent campaigner for the No to marriage equality movement Tony Abbott, after a clumsy do-si-do with a Yes badge-wearing anarchist ended in Abbott taking a headbutt to the mouth. No matter that the anarchist in question has made it very clear his desire to “nut the cunt” had nothing to do with the marriage equality debate, Abbott is not the only No campaigner to argue the only thing spoiling our respectful debate is actually all those dreadful Yes campaigners using nasty words like bigot.

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Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Lyle Shelton has complained of “bullying and vilification” at the hands of Yes campaigners, and Karina Okotel kicked off her address to the National Press Council on September 13 with examples of “vitriolic abuse” she and other opponents of marriage equality had received. 

However, in the interest of balance, Crikey thought it would be worth cataloguing some like-for-like ugliness since the postal plebiscite was announced, to see if Abbott, Shelton and Okotel are right. Is it really violence committed by, and behalf of, LGBTI Australians that has stained life in Australia in the weeks since the postal vote took centre stage?

August 27

Eight cars parked outside a suburban theatre presenting Holding the Man, a gay love story based on the memoirs of actor Tim Conigrave, have their tyres slashed. Prior to the performance, posters for the performance had been routinely pulled down.

September 13

Another former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, tweets a picture of his 19-year-0ld godson, Sean Foster, with a lipstick-red gash splitting his forehead, smearing down past his eyes onto his cheek. Foster had been punched in the face after calling a man he saw tearing down rainbow posters in east Brisbane a homophobe.

September 25

Tasmanian police charge a 32-year-old Taroona man with common assault over an alleged attack on trans 16-year-old Thalia Black in Elizabeth Mall, Hobart, on September 22.

A neo-Nazi group known as Antipodean Resistance plasters homophobic posters that feature images of Adolf Hitler and swastikas at the University of Tasmania. The act was quickly condemned by university staff.

September 26

Brisbane woman Olivia Williams reports that her house — currently adorned in rainbow flags — has been pelted with rocks, breaking a window, and that a man had yelled homophobic slurs from her garden. There are reports of swastikas drawn on the rainbow flags that supporters had erected on their lawns, and phrases like “Vote no! to fags”and “faggots not welcome” on Sydney trains.

September 27

News Corp Australia’s Claire Sutherland claims a man, shouting homophobic slurs, attacked her dog, who, at the time, was wearing a pro-marriage equality scarf.


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Crikey is an independent Australian-owned and run outfit. It doesn’t enjoy the vast resources of the country’s main media organisations. We take seriously our responsibility to bear witness.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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