THE controversy surrounding a banner used during a pro-marriage equality rally in Brisbane earlier this month has grown to attract criticism from mainstream media.
At the recent rally, a Socialist Alternative banner depicted Prime Minister Tony Abbott being hung by a rainbow noose with the message: “Dear Tone, Stahp ur homophobia or else, sincerely de gayz”.
The banner provoked Equal Love’s Dylan Carmichael to write an open letter to the group’s leaders protesting the decision to allow the banner during the peaceful rally.
“I can’t tell you how my heart sank as I watched this banner at Saturday’s marriage equality rally in Brisbane.” Carmichael wrote on his blog.
“Put simply, Socialist Alternative, if that’s your idea of supporting our cause, then we don’t want or need it. Leave us alone.”
Carmichael’s letter attracted community-wide support, with many sharing his belief that the Socialist Alternative have silently taken control of the Equal Love movement. The sentiments also echoed the reaction to Sydney-based Community Action Against Homophobia recently using a controversial banner, and the banner that was used during an anti-police brutality rally held after Mardi Gras, whereby many believed they were too radical and did not represent the LGBTI community.
However, Equal Love responded to Carmichael’s criticism by voting to expel him from the rally organising committee and banned him from future meetings.
“We do not believe it is the role of Equal Love Brisbane to censor, control or condemn materials that any supporting individual or group brings to the rallies,” Equal Love states in response to Carmichael’s dismissal.
“Never before have we had to deal with a situation where a spokesperson for our organisation undermined the democratic decision-making processes of the group to publicly slander other activists involved in the campaign.”
The fall out attracted the attention of News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt, who took the opportunity on his blog to label those behind the banner as “hypocrites hating Abbott to death”.
“Those responsible [for the banner] say they represent equal love. They practice an unequal hate.” Bolt wrote.
Carmichael expressed uneasiness at being used by Bolt to attack the left and urged him to focus on the vast majority of the LGBTI community and that most of its members did not share Socialist Alternative’s views.
“The ‘Ditch the Witch’ comparison was obvious,” Carmichael told the Star Observer.
“I think it’s better that Mr Bolt report on division within the [Equal Love] movement over the banner, rather than reporting on what would have seemed to be our silent approval of it.”
He added that further debate was required over the future of the movement and issue of equal rights in Australia.