Two prominent same-sex marriage opponents have stressed that redefining marriage affects society at large, as the debate in Australia continues over changing the law.
Brendan O’Neill, the Editor of online magazine Spiked, and marriage campaigner Katy Faust took part in a panel discussion on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A programme.
O’Neill detailed the “illiberal” attitude of same-sex marriage advocates and how they have targeted Christians.
He argued that homosexual marriage presents itself as a liberal civil-rights issue, but that in reality, “it has this really ugly, intolerant streak to it”.
O’Neill said: “Anyone who opposes gay marriage is demonised, harassed. We’ve seen people thrown out of their jobs because they criticise gay marriage.”
He continued: “There are equality cases, shops have closed down, it’s like a twenty first century form of religious persecution – it’s horrendous.”
Discussing Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s opposition to same-sex marriage, O’Neill said, “we live in a climate in which it’s not acceptable” to “express this sentiment in public life”.
Within the space of a decade, something that humanity believed for thousands of years has suddenly become a form of bigotry, a form of hate – something you’re not allowed to express in public life.Brendan O'Neill
“Tony Abbott is now being described as someone from the dark ages for believing what humanity has believed for thousands of years.
“Within the space of a decade, something that humanity believed for thousands of years has suddenly become a form of bigotry, a form of hate – something you’re not allowed to express in public life.”
He added: “Gay marriage is not a liberal issue, it has a deeply illiberal streak.”
Katy Faust, who was raised in a lesbian household, argued that when society redefines marriage, it redefines parenthood.
Faust said that children have a “right to a mother and a father” and described it as “one of the most self-evident rights out there”.
She spoke of how social scientists generally agree that, “men and women parent differently and they offer distinct and complementary gifts to their kids”.
Debate ‘shut down
Describing the events which led to marriage being redefined in her own country, the United States, she said: “This debate has been framed as one that is based on prejudice and what that does is it shuts down a real robust debate”.
The campaigner argued that in the US, the debate was so “demonised” from day one, anyone who supported traditional marriage was labelled as biased, bigoted, hateful or homophobic.