The VICE Guide to the Postal Plebiscite

The Catholic Church Is Urging People to Vote 'No' in the Plebiscite

Because “freedom of religion” means taking rights away from the non-religious, obviously.

by Katherine Gillespie
14 August 2017, 12:43am

The Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher with two auxiliary bishops. Image via Twitter

The shit-slinging begins, as it often does, with an exclusive in The Australian: Your property investor uncle's favourite newspaper has leaned in favour of the "No" campaign this morning, publishing quotes from the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher about how marriage equality is a threat to freedom of religion. Because giving one group of people fundamental human rights always means taking those rights away from other people. Super annoying how that works.

"Many people believe that redefining marriage won't affect them," Fisher told the paper. "Respectfully, I would say they need to take another look—it will affect every Australian.

"In other parts of the world that have legalised same-sex marriage, those who believe in traditional marriage have been harassed or coerced into complying with the new view of marriage. It would be extremely naive to think that won't happen here.

"Things will only get worse if ­marriage is redefined without ade­quate protections being first put in place."

Fisher took the opportunity to criticise the Safe Schools program, too. Naturally.

"Will children in government schools be subjected to propaganda in favour of same-sex marriage and gender fluidity such as the infamous Safe Schools program?" he asked. "Will parents be free to take their children out of such classes? Will church schools be expected to toe the line also?"

It's looking like the "No" campaign will shape itself around these sorts of arguments—it's difficult to criticise the concept of same-sex marriage itself, because people falling in love and be happy together forever is, um, obviously something that should be allowed to happen. But the likes of Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop will tell you that gay marriage is just a symptom of society's wider decline. If we let people of the same sex marry each other now, does that mean we'll let them marry animals in the future? Won't somebody think of the children?

Expect all this rhetoric to ramp up over the next two months. Stay strong, look out for your LGBTQI friends, and if you want your opinion heard, enrol to vote or update your details by the deadline of August 24. Ballot papers are distributed in September, and votes counted from November 7. We'll know the result on November 15.

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Tony Abbott
same-sex marriage
Catholic Church
marriage equality
gay marriage
Malcolm Turnbull