On March 22 this year ABC’s Religion & Ethics Report ran a story The culture war of marriage equality in Australia that alleged my activism around Mark Allaby’s employment at IBM was linked to marriage equality.
On March 26 I documented various inaccuracies in this ABC story in my article Straightening out Professor Iain Benson and followed this up with a complaint to the ABC.
On May 18 the ABC responded to my complaint, which in part advised:
ABC Radio advises that although you were not referred to by name, your activism was one of the issues discussed in the program. In response to your complaint, Radio has acknowledged that listeners would likely have drawn the conclusion that your activism concerning Mark Allaby focussed on the issue of same-sex marriage rather than Pride in Diversity. Radio apologises for this oversight. The following clarification has been published on the program page:
Michael Barnett, one of the key activists behind the campaign around IBM’s Mark Allaby, has contacted the ABC to explain that his activism on this issue was in support of broader issues of LGBT equity in companies, rather than focussing on the specific issue of same sex marriage. The ABC is happy to provide this clarification.
Further details about my activism on this issue can be found in my September 21 article David Marr, do you fact check?.
Eventbrite is an organisation familiar to many of us. They facilitate the online ticketing of events.
On September 28 2017 I wrote this letter to Eventbrite, outlining a concern of mine:
With reference to your Community Guidelines:
Hateful/Dangerous Content and Organisations
• Eventbrite does not tolerate content or organisations that promote or encourage hate, violence, or harassment towards others and/or oneself. Specifically, content or organisations that promote hate towards or the harassment of individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity will not be permitted on our site.
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), a prominent anti-LGBTIQ organisation that is heading the No campaign against same-sex marriage in Australia at the moment, and is using Eventbrite for two of its events:
It concerns me that they are in breach of your Community Guidelines on account of them using your platform to promote their anti-LGBTIQ agenda.
For example, refer to this 2016 article about the Managing Director of the ACL, Lyle Shelton:
I received this response from Eventbrite on Oct 6:
I’m reaching out on behalf of the Eventbrite Trust and Safety team to follow up with you regarding the event listing you reported to us.
Eventbrite Trust and Safety
I sent this response the same day:
Thank you for your response.
While I agree that the ACL has a right to gather, there seems to be a disconnect between your standards and your actions.
The ACL does not directly encourage violence. However, even a cursory review of their material that they have produced for the “No” campaign would show hatred towards the LGBTI community and it certainly amounts to harassment.
With the LGBTI community suffering greatly under the current political climate we have heard of increases in demands for mental health services and we have been subjected to an unjust treatment, primarily driven by the ACL.
Your continued support of their event is indeed regrettable and Eventbrite is contributing to the negative impact of the mental health of those that it seeks to protect.
I urge you to review this decision in light of my comments above.
I will post an update if I receive a response to the above email.
Hilton Hotel & Resorts has made a commitment to the LGBT community:
At Hilton, we are proud to support the LGBT community as a way to further the Hilton brand promise of ensuring that every guest feels cared for, valued and respected.
On November 17 2017 Hilton Sydney will be hosting the Australian Christian Lobby’s Embolden Conference:
The Australian Christian Lobby is committed to eroding the rights of LGBTIQ Australians. They are actively campaigning against marriage equality, Safe Schools, and the dignity, respect and inclusion of every same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender diverse Australian.
In short, the ACL are a hate group that considers homosexuality immoral and does not believe same-sex couples should be parents.
It is unclear to me how Hilton Sydney are “supporting the LGBT community” by hosting an event for an organisation that is actively destroying the lives of LGBT people.
It appears that Hilton are not walking their talk by taking a booking from a prominent anti-LGBTIQ hate group.
At the same time, the ACL have form in booking their events at venues that are known to be openly supportive of the LGBTIQ community, as demonstrated by the 2014 debacle where the ACL booked the pro-LGBTIQ Hyatt Canberra for an event that resulted in Hyatt forging a stronger relationship with Australian Marriage Equality.
It is clearly a tactic of the ACL, to further their victim status, to knowingly book a pro-LGBTIQ venue on the expectation the venue will be called out for doing business with an anti-LGBTIQ hate organisation.
By hosting an ACL event, and with the ACL fulling engaged in the No campaign against marriage equality, Hilton Sydney are complicit in the devastating effect the postal survey on marriage equality is having on the mental health of the LGBTIQ community.
In lieu of Hilton Sydney hosting the ACL event on November 17, the least they can do to show their support for the LGBTIQ community is to donate, up-front, the proceeds from this event to the Yes campaign. An additional donation toward the Yes campaign would go a long way to demonstrating their commitment to LGBTIQ people.
Going one step further I would like to see Hilton Hotels issue a statement advising they will not take bookings from hate groups and organisations that actively lobby to degrade the human rights and dignity of any group of people.
Stand up for equality Hilton. You are better than this.
Today I handed out “Yes” posters for the same-sex marriage survey along the length of the shopping strip in High Street, Ashburton. For the most part it was a rewarding experience, with a handful of shopkeepers very keen to proudly show their support, and a lot more shopkeepers who were similarly keen, pending their manager’s approval.
I am happy to endorse the shops that support equality, like this one:
and this one:
One shop in particular, Baker’s Delight, was magnificent. The staff member whom I spoke to said he’d need to speak to his manager before he could put it up. I was happy enough that he wanted to do the right thing and seek permission. Then a few minutes later I walked back past shop and he was sticking the poster to the shop front. My heart swelled because they were proud to support equality.
However something happened between me leaving the shop and coming back a little later that disturbed me greatly. I saw a woman shoving a scrunched marriage equality Vote Yes poster into the rubbish bin out the front of the shop. The bin was full so her adding this large poster to the mouth of the bin didn’t help very much with its disposal.
I was alarmed to see someone throwing this poster in the bin because I knew it had been taken down from one of the many locations along the length of the street that had been covered with these posters.
I asked the woman why she was putting that in the bin and she said “Because it’s rubbish”. She then turned to walk into the bakery, but not before I could see the prominent pink and blue circular badge on her top that said something along the lines of “I’m voting No”.
I was hoping to capture some footage of her and challenge her on camera about her actions but the best I could do get was her walking back to her car (Burgundy KIA Sportage, rego VIC ANS-072) and driving away.
So when the people opposed to marriage equality claim they have no voice and are the silent majority, being denied their “free speech”, just take a look at this woman, ripping down Yes posters, calling them rubbish (and by inference calling equality rubbish) and putting them in the bin.
She could have handed the shop a poster asking to promote her anti-equality cause, just like I did for my pro-equality cause, or put similar posters up and down the strip of shops, but instead she chose to remove a poster that someone else put up, in a cowardly attempt to silence people wanting equality under the law.
What belongs in the bin are the bigoted attitudes of this woman who is opposed to all people having the same rights under the law, and not a poster calling for equality.