Ad campaign safe for schools, not TV

Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 23 October 2017

The latest TV ad to be rolled out by the anti-same-sex marriage lobby has been deemed unacceptable for general viewing, with the commercial television body declaring passages attributed to the controversial Safe Schools sexuality education program can be aired late in the evening only.

Free TV has advised the Coalition For Marriage that its latest commercial warrants an ‘‘MA’’ classification due to “depictions of implied sexual activity and verbal sexual references” and can air only after 8.30pm, or 9.30pm during a sports program or a film classified as ‘‘G’’ or ‘‘PG’’.

The 30-second commercial, which is due to air tonight and features footage of Safe Schools founder Roz Ward speaking at a same-sex marriage rally, includes passages from the Safe School-endorsed OMG I’m Trans and OMG I’m Queer resources, which are available from the Victorian Department of Education and also appear on the websites of some South Australian schools.

The passages include “penis-in-vagina sex is not the only sex and certainly not the ultimate sex,” and “it’s a total lie that all guys have dicks, that all girls have vaginas”, which appear on the screen as text.

The Coalition for Marriage tried to point out to Free TV’s commercial advice arm that the passages had been lifted directly from learning materials approved by various state governments and taught to students from Years 7 upwards. However, it was told the organisation was independent of governments and under the definitions of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice the material was not appropriate for viewing by minors. Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton said he was disappointed by Free TV’s stance given the topical nature of the advertisement.

“It is beyond belief that taxpayer-funded LGBTIQ sex and gender education materials openly made available to students of all ages are given an MA rating for television,” Mr Shelton said.

“The issue of these materials, of parents’ rights, and the direct relationship with changing the Marriage Act are there for all to see, and parents should beware.”

While the Coalition for Marriage has been heavily criticised for arguing that legalising same-sex marriage would lead to an extensive rollout of Safe Schools-style “radical” sexuality and gender diversity education programs in schools, Mr Shelton said evidence was mounting to support the supposition.

“Just this week we have seen footage of the British Prime Minister saying that after redefining marriage they would be pressing ahead with LGBTIQ and gender education in all British schools,” he said, referring to comments Theresa May made last week.

“The idea that all of these issues are unrelated is actually laughable.”

Free TV, the industry body representing Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licensees, was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when an ad celebrating Father’s Day was deemed “political” ahead of the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

That was criticised as “political correctness gone mad” by politicians, but Free TV blamed the ad’s creator, not-for-profit group Dads4Kids, for the ad not running, saying they were asked to add an identification tag declaring political content and refused to do so.


Chinese lobby group formed to oppose same-sex marriage and safe-schools

Rachel Baxendale, The Australian, 14 June 2017

The Australian Chinese community has founded a not-for-profit group to mobilise against same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program.

Co-founder and Sydney GP Pansy Lai was behind a petition to the NSW government that last year gathered 17,500 signatures from Australian Chinese community members opposed to Safe Schools.

Dr Lai said she was overwhelmed by the response to her petition and had been inspired to form the Australian Chinese for Families Association, which launches this week. “I didn’t ­realise until I did the petition just how many people there are out there who are really concerned about Safe Schools,” she said.

“After we lodged the NSW petition, parents from other states got into contact with us, wanting to know what they can do to tell the government they don’t want their children being taught this inappropriate program.

“These are normal, everyday Australian Chinese parents and grandparents. There are no politicians among us.”

The group also opposes same-sex marriage.

Dr Lai said as a GP specialising in pediatrics, she opposed Safe Schools, which is designed to prevent the bullying of homosexual and transgender children, because it was “not scientific or evidence-based”.

“It’s really important to take into account that these children are still underage,” she said.

“This would be fine in a university program, but school­children should be a politics-free zone,” she said.

“The other thing that is important is parental consent. If children are going to be taught something that goes against their parents’ values, parents need to be informed and given a choice.”

Dr Lai said she believed her group, which already has several hundred members, represented a large proportion of the Australian Chinese community.

“We’ve got people from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Southeast Asia,” she said. “We definitely represent a large Chinese ­community, not only in NSW but nationwide.”

Dr Lai said although she was Christian, the organisation was “definitely not” a Christian organisation, and was open to members of all religions and none: “ACF is going to be a voice for many concerned Chinese Australians, and a platform for us to share resources and petitions for our community.”

The establishment of ACF comes as the Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTIQ Australians holds a morning tea in Canberra today to launch multicultural resources developed in consultation with Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Hindi, Italian, Spanish, Greek and ­Korean-speaking communities.

Professional polling commissioned earlier this year by the anti same-sex marriage group Marriage Alliance found key ethnic communities overwhelmingly opposed same-sex marriage. Only 28 per cent of Asians living in Australia said they were strongly supportive of changing the Marriage Act; 75 per cent of Muslims and Hindus “strongly opposed” same-sex marriage.


Malcolm Turnbull’s same-sex marriage bill may hit a High Court hitch

Note: Just as the Safe Schools lobby wants SOGI taught to children, George Williams (Dean of Law at the University of NSW) says the SSM lobby wants SOGI recognised in Marriage.


Sydney Morning Herald, September 19 2016

Malcolm Turnbull has introduced the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 into the federal Parliament. The bill has been overshadowed by the debate over whether a plebiscite is desirable in the first place. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, his bill strengthens the case of those who reject the national vote. It is flawed in key respects, and could be challenged in the High Court.

The plebiscite bill proposes that Australians be asked a simple question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” This is the wrong question. It fails to capture the full extent of how the marriage act would be changed.

Many bills have been introduced into the federal Parliament to bring about same-sex marriage. These typically extend marriage rights not only to same-sex couples, but also to intersex people. The wider change is needed because same-sex marriage does not necessarily encompass people unable to identify as being either male or female.

An example is the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, sponsored by a cross-party group of MPs including Coalition member Warren Entsch. It sought “to allow couples to marry, and to have their marriages recognised, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status”. It went beyond the proposed plebiscite question in defining marriage not in terms of heterosexual or same-sex relationships, but as “the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The poor fit between the plebiscite question and the legal change could be a significant problem. Even an overwhelming yes vote could give rise to suggestions that Australians have not provided a mandate for altering the marriage act beyond recognising same-sex marriage. If the plebiscite question were implemented faithfully, intersex people would remain subject to discrimination.

This exposes an even larger issue. The government says that its plebiscite bill is sound because it adopts the same, well-travelled path as referendums to change the constitution. This is not true in several respects, including in ways that undermine the viability of the plebiscite.

When people vote in a referendum, they do so in full knowledge of how the law will be changed. Every referendum is accompanied by the specific, word by word, changes to the constitution. As a result, there can be no doubt about what Australians are voting for.

By contrast, the plebiscite bill fails to set out how the marriage act might be changed in the event of a yes vote. People would vote on the general concept of same-sex marriage without being provided with the full details, including as to several divisive issues. This uncertainty could be exploited by the No campaign.

These unresolved questions extend beyond the position of intersex people to whether the law should clarify that religious ministers would not be bound to solemnise a marriage. Another point of contention is whether the marriage act should permit commercial operators to refuse to supply goods and services in respect of same-sex marriages due to a religious objection.

A further departure from referendum procedure is the proposal that $15 million be provided to taxpayer-funded Yes and No campaigns. The government has made much of the fact that the 1999 referendum on the republic allocated funding to the Yes and No cases. This is correct, but it is the exception. Instead, the normal rule as clearly stated in the federal law that governs referendums is that: “The Commonwealth shall not expend money in respect of the presentation of the argument in favour of, or the argument against, a referendum proposal.”

The final difference relates to the consequences of a Yes vote. A Yes vote in a referendum produces a change to the constitution without further parliamentary debate. On the other hand, it is not proposed that the plebiscite produce any outcome. Instead, Parliament would be left to interpret the result. This undermines the value of holding the vote, and could prove fraught in light of uncertainties with what Australians have voted to support.

Each of these problems can be fixed by amending the government’s plebiscite bill. However, even if this does occur, further obstacles remain. These include the possibility of a High Court challenge. The constitution authorises the holding of a referendum, but makes no mention of a plebiscite. This means that the legal basis for the poll is uncertain.

It is likely that the High Court would uphold the plebiscite on the basis that it falls under the federal Parliament’s marriage power. On the other hand, specific provisions of the bill, such as those for compulsory voting, and the funding of the Yes and No cases, may prove vulnerable. Even if the Prime Minister somehow convinces Parliament to pass his bill, he might yet find his plebiscite derailed.