A lobby group in Australia which opposes same-sex marriage has asked the Green party to stop calling them “bigots’.
The Australian Christian Lobby, which campaigns against same-sex marriage, asked the Greens to stop calling people who are opposed to equal marriage “bigots”.
A report from the Australian parliamentary joint committee on human rights this week found that a cross-party bill by Warren Entsch would help to do away with discrimination.
However in response, Government MPs Michael Sukkar, David Gillespie and Matthew Canavan wrote a dissenting report which said same-sex marriage would undermine the human rights of marriage celebrants and children.
Responding to the report, Greens MP Adam Bandt labelled the MPs “bigots”, saying they were “scraping the bottom of the barrel”.
The ACL has now said Bandt should issue an apology to colleagues, saying “millions of Australians” who also oppose the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry also deserve an apology.
Managing director of the ACL, Lyle Shelton, said the Greens should “start engaging the arguments instead of name-calling”.
He said: “Adam Bandt’s labelling of three parliamentarians ‘bigots’ simply because they are standing up for marriage between one man and one woman is a new low in Australian politics.”
Same-sex marriage will strip “freedom of conscience, thought and religion from millions of Australians”, he said, adding that children would be deprived of their parents.
“All Australians must be free to discuss these consequences without fear of being labelled a ‘bigot’,” he said.
Bandt didn’t really agree, however saying: “I don’t need to apologise, it’s the ACL that needs to.”
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, he said: “I was making the point that the bigots are those grasping at straws by saying marriage equality is a breach of human rights.
“When 59% of Australian Christians support marriage equality, it’s the ACL that should apologise for pushing prejudice and misrepresenting Christian values.”
Malcolm Turnbull, who is perceived as a moderate, took over as Prime Minister earlier this year after his party voted to oust Tony Abbott – a strong conservative and opponent of same-sex marriage.
As a vote in Parliament loomed, Mr Abbott put plans in place for a plebiscite (public vote) on equal marriage. His actions averted a showdown on the issue, but also caused a lengthy delay – as the plebiscite will not take place until 2017.
New PM Mr Turnbull has affirmed his support for the plebiscite, but equality activists have urged him to consider dropping the plans – and instead allowing a simple free vote to go ahead in Parliament.