The 37th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras last Saturday was one of the best-publicised events in Sydney’s social calendar. About 10,000 people participated, with 150 floats chugging through the gay district. An estimated 200,000 watched the spectacle, which one disillusioned gay journalist described as “a sweaty orgy of glitter-coated body parts”.
Three local TV channels broadcast live coverage of the sexually-explicit activities, which have become so much a part of Sydney life that they hardly provoke hostile comments any more.
But this year there was a protest.
Channel 7 and Channel 9, two commercial stations, and SBS, a government-funded station, agreed to broadcast a 40-second advertisement from the Australian Marriage Forum which criticised same-sex marriage during their coverage. (The YouTube version has gone viral and has been viewed about 200,000 times.)
The commercial stations lived up to their agreement, but SBS buckled under pressure and cancelled the ad the day before the event. “I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast,” an SBS official told the head of the Australian Marriage Forum, Dr David van Gend.
Dr van Gend’s response to SBS timidity is scathing:
“This is suppression of free speech on a matter of public importance. It is outrageous for a taxpayer funded broadcaster like SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage.
“SBS is funded by taxpayers on both sides of the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate’. It broadcasts hours of the Mardi Gras protest march, free of charge, with its ‘Australian Marriage Equality’ float and other political themes … SBS gives free airtime for them to make their political point on ‘marriage equality’, but refuses to show even one minute of a paid ad presenting an opposing view.”
Dr van Gend accuses SBS of ideological bias and of violating its statutory duty to allow expression of different viewpoints on politically divisive issues.
“I see that SBS has its own float in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade, and I also see that the SBS slogan is ‘diversity works’. But clearly they cannot work with any diversity of opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage.”
The video appeals to the notion of equality, but for children. “So-called ‘marriage equality’ forces a child to miss out on a mother, or a father,” says a mother in a playground. “That’s not ‘equality’ for the kids who miss out. That’s not marriage.”
Supporters of the parade were horrified by the ad and described it as “bigoted scare-mongering rubbish”. Rodney Croome, of Australian Marriage Equality,, said the ad was “actually harming the many Australian children being raised by same-sex couples because it defends discrimination against their families”. About 8,000 people have signed a petition at change.org to remove the ad because it stigmatizes the children of gay couples.
But Dr van Gend, a general practitioner from Queensland, dismissed this.
“Don’t be precious. The Mardi Gras is a protest march, an aggressively political rally and they pride themselves in being contentious and provocative. We were making a very gentle but firm counter-protest, which is how we do it in a free country. They protest for ‘marriage equality’; we protest for ‘equality for kids’, because children have an equal right, wherever possible, to both a mum and a dad. Gay marriage makes that impossible, and we say that is unjust”.
Dr van Gend is right. Supporters of the parade giggle at the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whose obscene and blasphemous antics could be described as religious vilification. But they wilt at the slightest challenge to their plans to dismantle natural marriage. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it. It’s a bad omen for states which have legalized same-sex marriage. Some people who can’t stand the heat don’t leave. Instead, they wreck the kitchen.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.