International – Australian ad draws fire for linking gay marriage to boys in dresses

Australia (Rueters)

An Australian campaign ad that claims same-sex marriage laws would lead to school children acting out gay relationships and boys wearing dresses in class drew widespread fire.

The advert was aired by the Coalition for Marriage, a group that opposes equal marriage laws.

It said that legalizing same-sex marriage would usher in education programs that rob parents of the right to choose how children learn about sexuality.

The adverts – the first national televised campaign for the ‘No’ vote in a September referendum on same-sex marriage – misled viewers about what is at stake, according to Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

“Look, there is only one question on the ballot paper, that question is: ‘Should same-sex marriage be allowed in Australia?,’” Birmingham told reporters.

“It is patently ridiculous to suggest that allowing same-sex couples to marry is somehow going to see some new sway of teaching reform sweep across the country,” he said.

Parliamentarians including opposition leader of the Labor party Bill Shorten and Liberal Party MP Tim Wilson have also condemned the adverts as inaccurate.

Australia is one of the only developed English-speaking countries not to have legalized same-sex marriage, despite strong popular support and the backing of most lawmakers.

Same-sex marriage is supported by 61 percent of Australians, a 2016 Gallup opinion poll showed.

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