Something Wicked This Way Comes

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2nd Witch:
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking]
Open locks, Whoever knocks!
[Enter Macbeth]

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!

Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 44–49

As we wait for the plebiscite bill to emerge in the opening days of the new parliament, I take a look at what’s going on, as the war for marriage equality begins to swing into gear.

Two things become more evident with every passing day. The “secret, black and midnight hags” opposing marriage equality are becoming bolder, more outspoken, and more dangerous with every passing day.

Not only that. the NO camp are clearly aware of the damage they fully intend to do, and are demanding to be shielded from the consequences of their attacks on the LGBTI community. They insist the plebiscite must take place, but then vow to ignore the result if they don’t like it. Could there be a better definition of ill-will and ill-intent?


Sign the AME petition against the plebiscite with almost 27,000 signatures, due to be presented in the first days of the new parliament:–2


[BREAKING! This petition now has over 36,600 signatures! Keep them coming.]

A steady stream of articles is appearing almost daily from the Australian Christian Lobby and its surrogates, Family Voice Australia, Australian Marriage Forum, and less restrained individuals such as Bill Muehlenberg, Bernard Gaynor and Cory Bernardi.


Here’s Muehlenberg on the opposition to a plebiscite from discrimination commissioners, trade unions, medical professionals and many other LGBTI allies, which he claims is an attempt to silence debate.

“Did we not send millions of our sons to die on foreign beaches and far-flung battlefields to challenge this sort of totalitarianism? Did we not decide that dictatorship, tyrants and Brave New Worlds were not to be the world’s future, but a free people?

Did we not witness the bloodshed of so many to keep us a free people? And now we are seeing all that being stamped on by the homosexual jackboots. They have become the new rainbow fascists who will demand the total compliance of the masses to the dictatorship of the pink elites.

Sorry, I will never submit to these sexual Stalinists. I refuse to bow down and worship at the feet of the pink mafia.”


Write to your local MPs and ask them not to vote for for a plebiscite: there’s a quick and easy form here



A slightly less hysterical reaction to the fact that there are perfectly sensible people who disagree with him, comes from ACL chief Lyle Shelton. He seems to want to speak without being challenged or contradicted.

“Here we [the ACL] are in a supposedly free society, wanting to hold a conference, wanting to engage in public discourse around issues that are in the media – issues that are before the parliament – and yet our opponents are trying to shut us down all the time. Is this free speech? Is this tolerance? I think that’s a question we all have to ask ourselves.”

Shelton is already on record as wanting anti-discrimination laws repealed or set aside so that he can attack LGBTI people without fear (George Brandis has so far knocked them back), and is now lobbying to force TV companies to air ACL attack ads during the plebiscite campaign.

That would mean “overriding the current Association of National Advertisers’ code of ethics, which prohibits vilification of a person or community based on race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, disability, mental illness or political belief.”

In a follow-up piece, Crikey explained why a change in the law would be needed.

“…if it’s not election time, if you’re not a political party contesting an election, and your content isn’t ‘election matter’ – e.g, soliciting votes at an election or advocating a party contesting an election or its policies, then the answer is no.

“That means that lobby groups like the ACL, who are not political parties, can never force TV stations to air their political ads.”

The Tasmanian premier is considering suspending or repealing anti-discrimination measures in his state.

At the same time Shelton is also lobbying the government to fund both the YES and NO campaigns with millions of dollars of taxpayer funds. Australian Marriage Equality has said it doesn’t want either side to be given public funding.


Add your name to the petition to the new cross-bench MPs, asking them to vote against a plebiscite

Add your name to the almost 10,000 strong Australian Marriage Equality petition against funding the YES and NO campaigns:


Shelton and the ACL are mainly arguing, not against marriage, but against same-sex parenting, surrogacy, and transgender understanding and support.

“If gender is removed from marriage, it follows that same-gender married couples must be allowed to participate in the benefits of marriage equality. The United Nations — and common sense — recognises that marriage is a compound right to found and form a family.

“Two people of the same gender are biologically incapable of producing children. That is not a statement of bigotry or homophobia, it is simply fact. For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy.

“How else can a married gay couple have children? Surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation, in all its forms, is ethically problematic.

“These technologies close the door on a child’s right to be raised and loved by both biological parents, wherever possible.”


Bernard Gaynor produces a full on attack: this is seriously nasty stuff.

“In its mechanics, to put it politely, homosexual behaviour is like putting nature’s square peg into nature’s round hole. It simply is not what nature intended. The very fact that one has to describe this behaviour so abstractly highlights the inherent revulsion that is part of the nature of homosexual behaviour.

“It is also a perversion of the natural order of human attraction. Same-sex relationships, by their very nature, lack the complementarity of the sexes… many people in same-sex relationships attempt to deal with this gender vacuum by over-compensating in their own behaviour. Lesbians certainly appear far more likely to adopt ‘male’ traits and characteristics than other women, while many homosexuals walk, talk and act in an effeminate fashion.

“In a nutshell, you have men rebelling against the natural order of men to be men and attempting to be women, and vice versa. I hate to point out the obvious, but it is this that incites feelings of hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule of people on the grounds of homosexuality.”


James Parker, “Catholic convert, abuse survivor and former gay rights activist” writing in Catholic Weekly, is hardly any better, though he cloaks his attacks in syrupy faux-concern and dark unexplained warnings.

“I and many who have walked a similar pathway to me have changed our minds and do not believe two people of the same-sex can or should be married.

“We also believe that to entice same-sex couples into this illusion as other nations are doing will create greater long-term harm for the very people we love and believe in.

“There are many alarming risks to same-sex couples that are not only unknown to general society but are also hidden away and unspoken of within the LGBTI community.

“Failure to face these can often lead to a greater injustice for those originally seeking justice.”

He never explains exactly what these ‘alarming risks’ and ‘greater long term harm’ are.


Buy wristbands from PFLAG If you belong to an LGBTIQ social, peer support or agency and are concerned about what a plebiscite may do. Please make contact with Shelley Argent and she will send them to you. They are free, but if you would like to make a donation towards cost and mailing she will give you the bank account details later.



So, having had a look at the muck that is already being circulated – and they haven’t even got started properly yet – we should make every effort to prevent the plebiscite from happening. But there’s another reason not to put the matter to a public vote.

Even those who are pushing hardest for a plebiscite will ignore the result if they don’t win.

“In a podcast this week, ultra right-wing Senator Eric Abetz said he found it “bizarre” that he should be expected to be bound by the result given those who want the change — but oppose the plebiscite — would not be bound if it went the other way.

“In the same episode, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton — who has several times said the matter was “settled” when the Parliament voted down same-sex marriage in the past — claimed he would “respect” the outcome of the plebiscite, but would not consider the matter over.

“We’ll accept the result, but I personally can’t believe what I think is a lie in public policy, and I will continue to make the case. It might take us many, many years to convince people but I think the issue of marriage, if it is redefined, won’t be a settled issue.”

Thankfully not all the news is bad. The Trade Union movement has finally shaken off the baleful influence of Joe De Bruyn and the Shop workers Union, and come out in support of marriage equality, and against a plebiscite.

And former Senator Robert Simms writes:

“Some supporters of marriage equality may well argue that defeating the plebiscite plan puts that reform in jeopardy. They are wrong about this. Ethically, I believe it is irresponsible to support a measure that will cause great harm and damage lives in order to potentially achieve a desired policy outcome.

“I support marriage equality and I want to see it achieved but I don’t want to jeopardise the health and wellbeing of my community to get us there. The lives of LGBTI people are simply too important to gamble with.”–and-i-dont-want-the-samesex-marriage-plebiscite-20160816-gqtkzs.html


Become a volunteer with any of these organisations:

Australian Marriage Equality


Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays

They’re all on Facebook

Please, let’s do all we can to make sure this monster is stillborn: it will be far harder to kill once it is walking among us.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)