Snapshots of the ads have emerged on social media in recent days. The most troubling image was reportedly spotted in Melbourne, depicting two men set to attack a small child with rainbow-colored belts. “Stop the fags,” the ad reads.
Meanwhile, a bilingual brochure aimed at English and Chinese-speaking Australians that blasted homosexuality as “a tragedy of a family” and a “curse of death in terminating the family line” was apparently distributed in the Sydney suburb of Hurstville.
It’s unclear who produced the ads or where they came from, but they’ve nonetheless succeeded in making international headlines and drawing near-universal condemnation from Aussies on both sides of the debate. Among those angered by the campaigns was Victorian Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton, who called the poster and pamphlet “a really disturbing trend.”
“I think that people need to call that out and condemn this type of material,” Hilton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Yes, people are entitled to have different views, but in a debate like this it’s really important to convey those views respectfully.”
The campaign’s most high-profile opponent was none other than Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who urged Aussies to not get “distracted by a handful of extreme and unpleasant posters or flyers,” according to The West Australian.
Turnbull doubled down on that stance in an interview with Sydney-based radio station 2Day FM, urging same-sex marriage supporters and opponents to “focus on the substance of the debate.”
“I deplore disrespectful, abusive language whether it is directed at young gay people or people of other religions or other races,” he said, according to The Guardian. “If you have friends who are really distressed by this sort of language, stand up for them, put your arms around them.”