Hateful labels like “bigot” and “homophobe” thrown at an Australian politician are worse than the racism she has had to endure.
Karina Okotel, who was born in Australia and has a Sri Lankan background, says she will be voting against same-sex marriage in the upcoming ballot because the consequences are “too significant to be cast aside”.
Her remarks follow widespread intolerance directed at supporters of traditional marriage ahead of the vote.
Removed from job
In recent days a supporter of the current law was temporarily taken off Facebook over his views.
And activists called for a doctor to be removed after she warned of the impact of same-sex marriage.
In an article for The Australian newspaper, Karina Okotel – a Liberal Party politician – said she had faced derogatory comments and even been refused service in shops because of the colour of her skin.
‘Like nothing else’
“But the discrimination and hate I faced just by querying whether we should be legalising same-sex marriage has been like nothing I have experienced”, she said.
She said it is “good sense” to raise questions about threats to freedom of speech, religion and association from introducing same-sex marriage.
“I will be voting to keep our freedoms first and foremost. I will be voting no”, she concluded.
On Facebook, a 23-year-old supporting a campaign on marriage found himself banned for sharing a post encouraging people to vote ‘no’ to same-sex marriage.
He was told he had “violated some community standards”, but that was never fully explained.
The user was left baffled, telling Sky News the move was “ridiculous”. Facebook later apologised, saying it had made a mistake and restored his account.
Following a TV advert in support of the current law, one of the women featured faced a petition to remove her from her job as a doctor.
The petition has now been removed due to “inappropriate content”.
Dr Pansy Lai, who featured on the advert, also said she and her colleagues received abusive calls over the advert.
Australia’s postal vote this month will see citizens answering the question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
The result of the poll, which is not binding on Parliament, will be announced in mid-November.