Christian Bridal Magazine Forced Out of Business for Not Featuring Same-Sex Couples

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A major Australian wedding magazine has been forced to close after a campaign by violence-threatening activists against the Christian-run publication over its failure to feature same-sex couples.

Luke and Carla Burrell, who have published White Magazine for 12 years, posted a statement Saturday announcing that the magazine was “no longer economically viable” following an intimidation campaign which saw advertisers, staff, and contributors targeted for abuse and threats of physical violence.

The couple said that, while the publication had always been secular, they were forced to “pick a side” earlier in the year when the Australian state broadcaster, ABC, published a piece in which former contributors to the publication “raised the alarm about White’s lack of LGBTQI diversity”.

Photographer Lara Hotz said she felt “extremely hurt” by the magazine’s rejection of same-sex wedding shoots following the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia last year, adding: “It appears they are happy to take money, content and photographs from LGBTQI advertisers and contributors, but are yet to support and represent us in the same way as heterosexual couples are represented in the magazine.”

In their blog post, titled ‘Farewell’, the Burrells said they had “no agenda but love”, stressing: “We have no desire to create a social, political or legal war, which only divides people further and does more damage than good. To us, our faith is anchored in love without judgement.”

Reporting that they were “really saddened” by the campaign, during which “couples who have featured in our magazine have also been the subject of online abuse despite their individual beliefs”, the pair closed their post by stating: “We hope that one day soon our society can learn to accept people’s differences and different points of view and love each other no matter what. That’s where real positive change begins.”

The Burrells case is “only the tip of the iceberg” and represents “a quiet crisis of freedom that runs far deeper”, according to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), which warned the government’s failure so far to deliver religious protections it promised after the same-sex marriage referendum means “good people of faith are suffering”.

A report published in The Australian noted the case of Christian wedding photographer Jason Tey, who was hauled to a State Equal Opportunity Commission not for declining service to LGBT individuals but simply for stating his religious beliefs.

The professional from Western Australia got in trouble after “he agreed to photograph the children of a same-sex couple but disclosed a conflict of belief, in case they felt more comfortable hiring someone else”, reports the centre-right newspaper.

“At the conciliation hearing, it was demanded that Mr Tey provide an admission of discrimination as well as a written apology to be published publicly on the homepage of his website and all social media pages associated with his photography business for at least two months.”

The ACL “has been called in to provide help to more than 50 people who have faced legal trouble for living out their faith”, said the organisation’s managing director, Martyn Iles, describing as “a nightmare” the situations faced by Mr Tey and the Burrells.

“Few cases come to the public attention because people are afraid to speak. The intolerance they face is formidable,” he continued.

“Jason is being sued simply for stating his beliefs. Luke and Clara were harassed out of business for saying and doing nothing – for their silence.

“That is shocking. We are at the stage where anything less than total affirmation is worthy of vicious attack. We’re spiralling into an Orwellian nightmare.”

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