As the debate about marriage continues, Australians are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability for people to express their views on marriage and the gender ideology which comes with its redefinition. 

In workplaces across Australia, employees are coming under increasing pressure to comply with increasingly restrictive policies around “politically correct” speech, and are being compelled to participate in LGBTI pride events at work. 

A Telstra employee had this to say:

“Even though I declined to attend the “Wear It Purple” Day meeting, I have since been re-sent the meeting invite by an Executive Director 6 times. The meeting invite says staff are “required” (not “optional”) attendees.”

Companies like Qantas, Google and Airbnb handed out “acceptance rings” to staff, encouraging them to show their support for marriage redefinition.  While the wearing of the rings was “optional,” staff members were concerned that refusing to do so would open them up to some type of punishment or unfair treatment at work. 

Melbourne IT specialist Lee Jones was general manager of a company which was contracted to work on the Safe Schools program.  Asked his opinion of the program in a staff meeting, Jones said that while he was happy to work on the program, he wouldn’t want his own children to be exposed to some of the its more explicit material.  His comments were reported to the company owners and he was dismissed for creating an “unsafe work environment”. 

It’s not only staff’s behaviour at work which is coming under scrutiny, but outside of work as well.

Former PricewaterhouseCoopers executive Mark Allaby was forced to step down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby after activists suggested that this did not accord with the firm’s pro-LGBT stance.  At the time, a PwC spokesperson was quoted as saying:

“When it comes to employee participation on external boards, if a conflict arises between an employee’s board role and the best interests of PwC, we would request that they step down from that board.”

Allaby subsequently left PwC and began employment with IBM.  In similar circumstances, he was pressured to also step down from the board of directors of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an organisation which offers internships to Christians considering careers in areas related to public policy.  IBM refused to respond to questions about whether staff were free to engage with religious groups outside of their employment.

There are also the informal restrictions on free speech, with television and radio outlets refusing to broadcast views which promote traditional marriage, to say nothing of boycotts and even threats of violence against those organisations which express either a pro-marriage or even a neutral stance on this issue. 

One needs only look to the case of Coopers Brewery, which was subject to boycotts simply because its beer was featured in an online video attempting to show a “respectful conversation” around the redefinition of marriage between Tim Wilson MP and Andrew Hastie MP.  But a social media backlash accused Coopers of “fuelling homophobia” and threatened a boycott.  The outrage forced managing director Tim Cooper, and finance and corporate affairs director Melanie Cooper, not only to apologise, but to pledge the company’s support for marriage redefinition.

Even those who themselves identify as LGBTI are not immune from restrictions on speech.  Transgender Defence Force captain Catherine McGregor was sacked from advocacy group Kaleidoscope Australia for expressing concerns about Safe Schools.

All of this is happening even though the law in Australia is that marriage is between a man and a woman.  In countries where marriage has been redefined, the consequences for expressing views on marriage have become more serious.  People have been kicked out of university courses, fired, denied business or employment or forced to resign for saying what they think.

If you’re not sure how the redefinition of marriage will affect your rights to free speech, vote “no.”