Free speech would be threatened if marriage is redefined in the Republic of Ireland, journalist and marriage campaigner John Waters has warned.
Writing in the Irish Independent, Waters said that a ‘Yes’ vote in Friday’s referendum would lead to a “new climate of prohibition”.
Alongside other campaigners, he also criticised proponents of same-sex marriage for operating a campaign of intimidation.
Fatal’ for freedom
Waters, who launched pro-traditional marriage group First Families First, cautioned that failing to stand up against same-sex marriage might be “fatal for our freedoms”.
He said that the redefinition of marriage could lead to a “new climate of prohibition concerning certain forms of thought and speech, an Orwellian revisionism directed at texts and records bearing witness to old ideas”.
Writing on behalf of church leaders across Ireland, Paddy Monaghan also warned of a threat to free speech in an article in the Irish Times.
He argued that freedom of conscience will be challenged in the result of a ‘Yes’ vote, much like it has been in the UK.
Monaghan said: “Service providers will be acting illegally if they decline services for same-sex weddings. Three UK adoption agencies shut down because they were not prepared to provide adoption services to same-sex couples.
“Redefining marriage is being sold to us by the media and political establishment as a permissive measure, but we believe it will quickly become coercive.”
Monaghan and Waters also drew attention to intimidation on the part of same-sex marriage supporters.
Waters wrote that: “The lobby behind the same-sex marriage amendment includes elements that are nasty, out of control and indifferent to democratic values.”
He said there were “countless examples” of harassment and illegal behaviour including the tearing down of ‘No’ posters, egg-throwing and the harassing of a hotel until it cancelled a pro-traditional marriage event.
Equality has become a blackmail word, said Waters, which “has been employed with extreme prejudice to compel people to abandon not just their own most precious rights and protections but also those of their children’s children”.
The campaign against the redefinition of marriage is supported by a diverse range of people.
In a recent campaign video for pro-family group Mothers and Fathers Matter, two gay men explain why they will be voting against same-sex marriage.