Same-sex marriage "Yes" campaigners have quickly released an ad in response to this week's Coalition for Marriage commercial, saying those behind the "No" ad are misleading the public.
The "Yes" ad, that aired for the first time on Wednesday night criticised the "no" commercial that featured a number of Australian mothers voicing their fears for their children’s futures if same-sex marriage is made legal.
Featuring Dr Kerryn Phelps, the "Yes" ad begins with the grandmother watching the "No" video before telling the camera "sadly some are trying to mislead us, like this ad does by saying there will be a negative impact" if Australia allows same-sex couples to get married.
"Including on young people," she continues.
"The only young people affected by marriage equality are young gay people who for the first time will have the same dignity as everyone else in our country. And they deserve that."
The "No" ad, from the Coalition for Marriage presented three mothers who say they fear their families will lose their “right to choose” as they become exposed to the LGBTI lifestyle.
According to the Coalition for Marriage’s website, the plebiscite is “a referendum on consequences”.
“This ad will play an important role in helping Australians understand that saying ‘yes’ to gay marriage would mean saying ‘yes’ to radical gay sex education in schools,” the website states.
Coalition for Marriage spokeswoman Sophie York said in a statement “millions of Australians are now concerned about the consequences of changing the Marriage Act”.
“Australian parents have a right to know how a change in the marriage law will affect what their kids are taught at school,” she said.
“The education departments won’t tell them. Those lobbying for change won’t tell them.”
Equality Campaign Executive Director Tiernan Brady said "negative material can inflict real damage", news.com.au reports.
“The next few weeks must be a campaign of respectful conversations, not angry debates, because this is about real people’s lives and their dignity,” Mr Brady said.
The "No" advertisement has been widely panned by many in the “yes” campaign, including Opposition leader Bill Shorten who called it “offensive and hurtful” to gay Australians and their families.
"To put out an ad that links same-sex marriage with the safe schools program is ... an admission of failure," Anglican Reverend Dr Keith Mascord told reporters in Sydney.
"It's not looking at the substance of the debate but fear-mongering. It's irresponsible and wrong and we abhor it."
Ballot papers for the nation-wide postal vote on same-sex marriage are expected to be posted from September 12 with voters given until November 7 to return their ballots and a result declared on November 15.
If there is a majority "yes" vote in the $122 million poll, the parliament will debate and vote on a private member's bill to change marriage laws in the final sittings for the year.