A number of Australian mothers have voiced fears for their children’s futures if same-sex marriage is made legal in the first TV commercial aired from the “no” campaign.
The ad from the Coalition for Marriage is set to eerie piano music, featuring three mothers who say they fear their families will lose their “right to choose” as they become exposed to the LGBTI lifestyle.
It 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.
In the 30-second commercial, mother Cella White claims her son’s school told him “he could wear a dress next year if he felt like it”.
Ms White says she withdrew her children from a school in Victoria last year because it had a transgender awareness program.
“When same sex marriage passes as law overseas this type of program become (sic) widespread and compulsory,” a second woman says.
The ad then fades to black with the warning: “In countries with gay marriage, parents have lost their rights to choose.”
Another concerned mother says, “Kids in Year 7 are being asked to role play being in a same sex relationship.”
The ad closes by telling people: “We have a choice. You can say no.”
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.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten told Fairfax media the ad was "offensive and hurtful to LGBTI Australians and their families".
“This is not freedom of speech,” he said. “This is freedom to hurt.”
“I just want to tell LGBTI families that they are not on their own. Most people know this is total rubbish.”
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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 told Fairfax the ad was “disgraceful and dishonest”.
"The people behind this ad know that the Australian people are for allowing all Australians the right to marry, so they have resorted to misleading people, to pretend this is about something else,” he said.
"Sadly, over the next few weeks, the Australian people will get used to this daily dose of red-herrings and lies, served up by a bucketful of cash.
"As the no side seek to divide Australians, we will continue to seek to unite them."
Australian pop singer Darren Hayes of Savage Garden said the ad was “humiliating”.
“This does not represent the majority of Australians who want equal marriage. Homophobic pieces of s***”, he tweeted.
Another on Twitter said the ad was “hurtful”.
“Awfully made. Terrible production value. Even worse script,” he tweeted.
The ad will run on all of the main commercial networks and pay TV stations.