Aussie beer boycott over Christian gay marriage video

Aussie beer boycott over Christian gay marriage video

Sydney (AFP) - Leading Australian brewery Coopers apologised Wednesday after pubs vowed a boycott over its links to a Christian organisation that featured its beer in a same-sex marriage debate.

The Bible Society last week released a "Keeping it light" video that showed two conservative MPs -- one supportive of gay marriage and another against -- toasting with Coopers beer as part of a debate.

The video sparked a backlash, with critics interpreting it as one-sided and accusing the brewery of "sponsoring ads against marriage equality".

It led to a handful of pubs in Sydney stopping their sales of Coopers, a family-owned brewery from South Australia state.

Managing director Tim Cooper distanced his company from the video, saying that "Coopers never intended to make light of such an important issue".

"(We) would never and did not approve the making or release of the Bible Society video 'debate'," he said in a statement.

Coopers' director Melanie Cooper added that "our company supports marriage equality".

"Offence has been taken by our recent involvement, for which we are deeply sorry," she said.

The Bible Society said the video -- part of a campaign to mark its 200th anniversary -- was not specifically sponsored by Coopers but that it is a supporter of the charity.

A spokesman for the Society told AFP that "we don't have a stance" on marriage equality.

Coopers said the release of a commemorative Coopers Premium Light beer to mark the Bible Society anniversary had been canned, and it was joining Australian Marriage Equality, an equal rights organisation.

One of the venues boycotting the brewery, Newtown Hotel, said they were replacing Coopers with a Sydney ale.

"Dr Tim Cooper and the Coopers Brewery are entitled to spend their money however they wish -- as are we," the pub told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"The Newtown Hotel has a proud queer history dating back to the early 1980s, and we intend to put our money where our mouth is by backing local breweries who support our values, and the values of the vast majority of the Australian community."

Same-sex couples can have civil unions or register their relationships in most states across Australia, but the government does not consider them married under national law.

Australia is seen as lagging behind a growing number of countries on marriage reform but support for change is rising.

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