Neo-Nazis Are On The Frontline Of The Campaign Against Marriage Equality

Homophobic posters are popping up across the country.

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We’re still a couple of weeks away from the postal survey on marriage equality officially kicking off, but we’ve already entered the campaign has already produced some deeply homophobic moments.

This week a poster calling on Australians to “stop the fags” appeared in Melbourne’s CBD.

The poster suggested the children of LGBTI parents were more likely to experience abuse and depression, claims that have been comprehensively debunked.

Because the postal survey is not being conducted under Australian electoral laws, there is no requirement for campaigners to authorise any material with a name or address. That means any individual or organisation can anonymously create posters or advertisements featuring offensive and inaccurate messages without legal repercussion. (The government is preparing to introduce laws to fix this, but they’re at least a few weeks away).

While organisations like the Coalition for Marriage are the public face of the campaign against marriage equality, a lot of the underground campaigning going on, including the dissemination of homophobic posters across the country, is apparently being coordinated by a number of neo-Nazi organisations.

Far-Right Websites Are An Anti-Marriage Equality Organising Space

Last night on The Project Lyle Shelton, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, one of the groups involved in the Coalition for Marriage, claimed that the poster found in Melbourne could have been produced by the pro-marriage equality campaign to try and delegitimise the postal survey process.

In response to a question from co-host Waleed Aly about how the posters demonstrated that the campaign had rapidly degenerated and could no longer be considered a “civilised debate”, Shelton said “I don’t know who put that poster up. I can’t imagine anyone from our side would do that. It may have even come from people wanting to prove the sort of point you’re making.”

However, far from being a false flag conspiracy initiated by pro-marriage equality campaigners, it appears the Melbourne poster was produced by neo-Nazis and first shared on far-right website. Writer Ketan Joshi was able to track down the origin of the poster using a simple reverse image search on Google.

The website is also the primary organising space for a Melbourne neo-Nazi group known as Antipodean Resistance, who last week claimed responsibility for targeting Melbourne high schools with racist posters featuring the message “Keep Australia White”.

The same group was responsible for posters plastered across Melbourne’s Swinburne University last year promoting the gunning down of gay and trans people.

Junkee has contacted the Coalition for Marriage to ask if Shelton regrets suggesting the posters were a pro-marriage equality conspiracy, and if it will distance itself from the groups disseminating them. We’re yet to hear back.

Multiple Neo-Nazi Groups Are Campaigning Against Marriage Equality

Another neo-Nazi organisation, the Australian Traditional Nationalist Group [ATNG], has claimed responsibility for plastering up to 300 anti-marriage equality posters across Brisbane. The posters feature the group’s logo and website, and call for “traditional marriage” to be “protected”.

The group describes itself as “advocates [for] the protection of our White identity and the Traditional Western values rooted in Christian and Pagan traditions from Cultural Marxism, Islam, White genocide, international communism and the globalist elite.”

In a statement provided to the right-wing website The Unshackled, the ATNG said they “firmly believe in the protection of the nuclear family as the core foundation to the upbringing of healthy children. Traditional marriage has always played a vital role in securing the existence of the next generation and is prevalent in nearly every culture”.

There are other examples of the far-right throwing their support being the anti-marriage equality campaign. A popular Facebook profile picture template allowing users to affirm their support for the current legal definition of marriage appears to have been produced by a designer who has posted far-right images online, including a swastika and Nazi propaganda.

Just A Reminder, The Vote Hasn’t Even Started Yet

It’s worth bearing in mind that while the campaign has already ramped up in intensity, especially on the ‘No’ side, the actual vote is still a few weeks off. Postal survey forms won’t be mailed out until September 12, and voters have until November 7 to mail them back.

That means there’s still more than two months of the campaign to get through, without any rules or processes to ensure campaign materials are fair and accurate. This morning Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged some of the posters were “hurtful” but said that they were part of the “democratic debate”.

“The only way to stop people saying things that you find hurtful is to shut down free speech,” he said, in response to questions about the homophobic Melbourne poster.

Labor Senator Jenny Mcallister is chairing a Senate inquiry into the postal survey and she’s called on members of the public to submit evidence of offensive materials.

“Hateful contributions to public debate should not be allowed to go unchallenged,” Mcallister said. “Less than a fortnight into the government’s expensive and unnecessary postal survey we are already seeing examples of campaign material that doesn’t meet the standard of respectful debate.

“I will be writing to community advocates and organisations asking them to alert the Senate inquiry to any offensive, misleading or intimidating campaign material or behaviour. I would encourage any concerned Australians to do the same.”