An Australian bank has been lambasted for urging its staff to vote for same-sex marriage.
Westpac bank told employees that redefining marriage is a “no-brainer” and falsely claimed that bringing in same-sex marriage would prevent thousands of suicides.
Australian citizens are currently taking part in a postal vote on the issue.
Admission of inaccuracy
The email, sent from the bank’s youth network to as many as 10,000 members of staff, said: “While we’re not one to tell anyone how to roll, this is a no-brainer.”
“Along with ensuring all our colleagues and mates feel included and have equal rights, legalising SSM would prevent 3,000 suicides per year”, it added.
Following widespread criticism, the bank quickly attempted to distance itself from the email and claimed that the youth network is a “a group of young, enthusiastic Westpac employees who get together to discuss a range of issues”.
It also admitted that the statistic about preventing suicides was inaccurate.
Dr David van Gend, of Coalition for Marriage (Australia), said the bank’s claim about suicide rates was “at best ignorance, at worst emotional blackmail”.
“Clinically, it is absurd to suggest that marriage laws lead to suicide.”
Also speaking for the group, Sophie York said: “The issue of suicide is highly emotive and should not be used as a coercion technique to manipulate employees into voting a particular way on a political issue”.
The bank was also criticised by Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, who said he did not want groups involved in delivering banking services telling people how to vote.
He added: “Why are these companies involved in political campaigns? Stick to your knitting.”
Australia is currently answering the question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”