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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Australia

Part 15: Mid 2015: Allegations of
homophobia in evangelical sermons.
2010 to 2016: SSM support among
voters is high and increasing.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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Throughout this web site, "SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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map of Australia 2016-JUN: Three evangelical Christian groups in Australia were accused of violating their written agreement with schools:

The Hunter Bible Church leases space on weekends at the Lambton High School in Newcastle, New South Wales, were they hold religious services. They have recordings available of some of their services on their web site. In one sermon, Pastor Dave Moore preached a message about homosexuality, explaining that the gay lifestyle is "unhappy," and that sexually active homosexuals are punished after death by being sent to the torture chambers of Hell for eternity. He said:

"Homosexuality is one of the things that send people to Hell. ... Anything outside of [God's will] ... whether it is homosexuality, or adultery or pornography or sex before marriage -- anything that doesn't conform with what God created us into, is wrong." 1

Another evangelical group, the Lakes Christian Church, leases space at the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College on the New South Wales Central Coast. Pastor David Sheath is recorded on the church's web site, quoting a biblical passages from Leviticus , saying:

"In Chapter 20, He [God] states the death penalty for those who disobey. And notice throughout ... if it is not the death penalty, it’s being cut off from the people of God, which is still death, not just instant death. And so God is serious about sexual purity. ... God’s good design for sex within marriage [is between] one man and a woman. ... Even though books have been written and studies have been conducted to show that the gay lifestyle is not a happy one, people persist in the rejection of God. Let me encourage you that if you are in any doubt about how destructive that sexual sin is ... have a look at the research. ... I can ... point it out to you." 1

In a third online recording by Maitland Evangelical Church, Pastor Roger Burgess preached a sermon at services held in Maitland Grossman High School, He delivered a sermon that condemned incest, homosexuality and adultery. He said:

"God does not want us sinking in a sea of shame. If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, with the wife of his neighbour, both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. Now that sounds drastic doesn't it and it is. God will judge sexual sin. The Israelites didn’t get away with it back then, and we will not get away with it either." 1

Darrin Morgan from Human Rights Advocacy Australia (HRAA) complained to the schools involved. Acting principal Carlie Wells at the College said that the sermon was not appropriate. She wrote to the Lakes Christian Church saying:

"I have determined that the sermon described in your complaint was not consistent with the expectations of the community use agreement. ..." 1

Robert Burton-Bradley, writing for SBS News -- a TV, radio and online media company -- said:

"Darrin Morgan ... complained to both the Department of Education and Lakes Secondary College in April this year. But he said other than asking the church 'not to preach homophobic messages,' the department and school had taken no further action.

“HRAA believes that NSW public school facilities should not be used to promote beliefs which marginalizes members of both the school and wider community,” he said.

Mr Morgan said religious groups with these views should not be using school facilities.

"HRAA is simply asking the Minister for Education and the Department of Education to implement the department’s own policies and procedures in an objective and neutral manner. This requires such organizations to be deemed 'inappropriate organizations' and therefore must be denied use of public school facilities." 1

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2015-JUL: National public opinion polls shows support for gay marriage over the previous six years that high and steadily increasing : 2

Date % favor SSM % oppose SSM No opinion/
didn't answer
72 3
68% 4
69% 5
70% 5

Support for gay marriages in Australia is significantly higher than in the U.S. and Northern Ireland. It approximately equals the level of support within Canada.

The 2015-JUN poll also found that 57% of Coalition, 74% of Labor and 90% of Greens Party voters support same-sex marriage. 5

As is universally observed in polls around the world:

  • Women (at 74%) are more supportive of marriage equality than men (at 63%).

  • Older adults are much less supportive of marriage equality. However, even among those over 55 years-of-age, a majority (53%) are in favor.

  • Older youths and young adults are significantly more supportive. Among those aged 18 to 24, support is 86%! 5

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Webmaster's opinion [bias alert]:

With the polls showing support for gay marriage consistently at such a high value and rapidly increasing in Australia, it seems a pity for the government to waste millions of dollars to pay for a plebiscite that would merely confirm the accuracy of existing polls. The government probably has many more worthwhile projects that could benefit from such an expenditure.

However, I suspect that a significant percentage of adults who oppose marriage equality do not trust the accuracy of polls. A government-sponsored referendum is probably the only way to prove to this group that the polls are accurate.

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More recent polls:

A Fairfax-Ipsos poll conducted a poll between 2016-JUN-26 and JUN-29, and released the results only one day before the election day, which was held on 2016-JUL-01. They found:

  • 70% of voters supported marriage equality. This is an increase from their previous poll in 2015-AUG which found 69% support. However, the increase is well within the margin of error and so is not statistically significant.

  • 58% of Coalition voters, 79% of Labor voters and 97% of Greens voters support gay marriage. The results from the Greens party is the largest level of support for marriage equality that we have seen of any group anywhere in the world. 5

Clint McGilvray, writing for Australian Marriage Equality (AME) -- a pro-equality group -- said:

"The Fairfax-Ipsos poll released today shows a clear majority of Australians across every political party support equal access to civil marriage for lesbian and gay people. ..."

Dr Shirleene Robinson, National Spokesperson for AME said:

'It’s clear from this poll and other recent polls that the Australian people firmly accept that gay and lesbian people should be afforded the same respect and legal status that is available to the rest of society. The support levels right across the political spectrum is wonderfully encouraging and shows that marriage equality is an issue that transcends party politics.

Marriage equality is a simple issue of fairness for all. All Australians should be treated equally under the law and that includes being able to marry the person they love. This issue is about members of our families, our friends, neighbours and workmates. They should be able to have the same aspirations and opportunities in life as everyone else." 6

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Robert Burton-Bradley, " 'Homosexuality will send people to hell' – church sermons on public school grounds," SBS News, 2016-JUL-06, at:
  2. "A majority of Australians have supported marriage equality for several years," Australian Marriage Equality, 2015, at:
  3. "72% OF AUSTRALIANS SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY," Australian Marriage Equality, 2015, at:
  4. "Big tick for same-sex marriage as Labor gains: Ipsos poll," The Conversation, 2015-JUN-14, at:
  5. James Massola & Mark Kenny, "Federal election 2016: Australian voters overwhelmingly back Malcolm Turnbull's plebiscite policy," The Sydney Morning Herald, 2016-JUL-01, at: Unfortunately, we were unable to find a full set of data on the web site.
  6. Clint McGilvray, "Media Release: Australia backs marriage for all," Australian Marriage Equality, 2016-JUL-02, at:

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Copyright 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2015-MAR-24
Latest update: 2016-AUG-06
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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