Two Australian television channels have refused to air an advert from a group campaigning against gay marriage, and a third pulled it after being accused of ‘homophobia’. The organisation has said that it is “shocking” that it has been denied the right to free speech.
Marriage Alliance had planned to broadcast a 45-second message, entitled “It’s Not As Simple As You Think” on Australia’s networks, as part of a national discussion on the issue, the Christian Institute has reported. Gay marriage has been high on the agenda in Australia this last week, as the country’s Parliament voted whether to allow a free vote on the legalisation of gay marriage:
The advert showed a hand sketching the words “same sex marriage” in the shape of a mountain, before pulling back to show that the rocky outcrop was merely the tip of a much larger iceberg. Same sex marriage could have “unintended consequences”, affecting the teaching of sex education in schools, children, and “certain rights”, a voice over tells the viewer.
Channels 7 and 10 clearly disagreed, refusing to air the advert. A spokesman for Channel 7 said they had been “unable to accommodate” Marriage Alliance’s booking request, while Channel 10 said it did not comment on commercial arrangements.
Channel 9 said that it was airing the advert, “but in very selective timeslots”.
Foxtel, a subscription TV provider, initially agreed to air the advert, saying that it supported same-sex marriage and free speech. A spokesman commented: “We believe this debate should be won by the force of the argument in favour of reform, not by refusing to engage in debate or allow contrary opinion to be put”.
However, following a campaign on social media which accused Foxtel of homophobia, the channel has apparently now rowed back on that position.
Marriage Alliance said that they were being censored.
“It is quite shocking that two major TV networks are denying the basic right to freedom of speech and expression on an issue that supports the current law of the nation,” a spokesman commented.
“The advertisement raises legitimate concerns about rights. In no way does it denigrate any element of society, but raises questions that most Australians we believe would want to see answered”.
Last week the Australian parliament voted down plans to allow gay marriage following a marathon five hour debate on the subject. Speaking after the debate, the country’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, told reporters that gay marriage was a “deeply personal … subject on which decent people can differ.”
It follows a comment made through his spokesman last month, in which he confirmed that his position “remains the same as it has always been… he supports the current policy that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
However, although the vote wraps up the matter for the remainder of this parliament, he conceded that a referendum would likely have to be held after the next election, saying the “disposition of the party room this evening is that our position going into the next election should be that in a subsequent term of parliament, this is a matter that should rightly be put to the Australian people.”