The British High Commissioner to Australia has been forced to deny that a redefinition of marriage is being subtly pushed on citizens.
Menna Rawlings told the BBC that wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples held at British consulates are simply a “celebration of our own values”.
But Lyle Shelton, who leads Christian campaign group the Australian Christian Lobby, said: “Just because Britain has made a decision, doesn’t mean Australia has to follow suit.”
Exporting gay marriage
Marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman in Australia. It was only redefined in law in Britain four years ago.
At the time, then Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of ‘exporting’ same-sex marriage abroad because: “Many other countries are going to want to copy this”.
Now, the UK Government states that it registers same-sex unions “in all our consulates around Australia” under British law and there have been at least 30 in the capital alone.
Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said the country should be allowed to make up its own mind.
“We’re seeing the negative consequences of the decision that Britain has made in terms of the impacts on the rights and freedoms of other people in the UK, particularly people of faith, so I think it’s up to Australia to make its own decision and not to be swayed by what other nations might do”, he said.
Shelton’s comments were covered by Radio 4’s Today programme and online – although they only featured for four seconds in a 1 minute 18 second video.
— Menna Rawlings (@MennaRawlings) April 27, 2017
So I did an interview with BBC News, which was a privilege. You can judge whether or not the report gave equal weight to both sides. https://t.co/Ub6RMy4B1Q
— Lyle Shelton (@LyleShelton) April 27, 2017
Menna Rawlings told the BBC the ceremonies celebrated British values.
Challenged by reporter Hywel Griffith on whether Britain was exerting a form of ‘soft power’ on Australia because same-sex unions are not legal there, Rawlings said it “wouldn’t ever seek to enforce our values on other countries, particularly not a country like Australia with which we have such close and warm and respectful relations”.
Last year a Bill proposing a public vote on same-sex marriage was blocked in the Australian Senate.
Volunteer axed over marriage
On the first day same-sex marriages took place in England and Wales, a grandfather took a stand against the change – and then lost his role volunteering with the Red Cross.
Bryan Barkley held a sign which read “No Same Sex Marriage” and “No Redefinition of Marriage”.
He spent almost 20 years volunteering for the Red Cross, but following his actions Mr Barkley was told of the decision to withdraw his “opportunity to volunteer with the British Red Cross permanently and with immediate effect”.