If this is a sign of things to come, I’d predict my opposition to gay marriage is only set to expand exponentially.
“Same- sex marriage event off: threats to hotel staff”, the Australian, September 17 2016:
A ferocious campaign against Christian groups planning to meet on same-sex marriage has forced them to cancel the event at a major hotel next week, amid claims of physical threats from marriage-equality advocates.
The Accor Hotels group confirmed late yesterday that the function had been abandoned after a social media storm triggered phone calls that “rattled” employees and left the company concerned about the safety of staff and guests.
In the first test of the “civil” debate promised for a plebiscite on gay marriage, advocates for the “yes” case were being blamed last night for the kind of “hate speech” that Bill Shorten and others have claimed would come from the “no” case.
A spokeswoman for the Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel said the campaign by marriage-equality advocates had forced the company to close the hotel’s Facebook page, sparked phone calls that disturbed hotel staff and escalated the problem to the company’s headquarters. “We’ve conducted an objective review regarding the safety and security of our hotel guests and staff,” she said. “Following this review the event will no longer take place next week.”
The four Christian groups booked the hotel conference room for Tuesday to prepare for a “no” campaign in the potential plebiscite, even though Labor and the Greens appear certain to block the “people’s vote” legislation in the Senate. About 100 people were expected to attend from the Sydney Anglicans, Sydney Catholics, the Marriage Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby.
Gay news website SameSame.com.au alerted readers to the event. Activist Pauline Pantsdown urged followers to stop the “dangerous, predatory” ACL. “Are children safe at Mercure and Accor hotels?” one post said. One follower declared it “utterly horrifying” that Accor would host the Christian groups while another accused the hotel of supporting the “hateful, deceitful and extreme” ACL.
The campaign dismayed some marriage-equality supporters. “I’m becoming a little uneasy about this kind of thing,” said one. “Will fundamentalist Christians and others start pressuring venues hosting marriage-equality functions to cancel them?”
Accor confirmed the campaign led to a number of “negative” calls to the hotel but would not confirm claims these calls included death threats. The spokeswoman would not say whether the police had been notified.
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, warned that it was beneath Australians to treat supporters of traditional marriage as proponents of bigotry. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, warned of the danger to free speech from the threats that shut down the meeting.
A joint statement from the conveners said the hotel staff received “threats of violence” after the details of the private event were published on the internet. “We have chosen to reconsider our arrangements for the event next week due to our concern for the safety of the hotel staff, and our commitment to a reasonable and respectful debate,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said.
The Weekend Australian sought comment from Australian Marriage Equality yesterday but the group was not aware of the storm over the event.
Marriage-equality advocates hailed the cancellation of the meeting late yesterday. Pantsdown accused ACL of “playing victim” and justified the campaign against the Christian groups “due to danger they pose” to LGBTI children and families.
The bill to hold the February 11 plebiscite was introduced into parliament this week but appears headed for defeat in the Senate, with the Coalition insisting on a “people’s vote” and Bill Shorten wanting Labor to vote against it.