Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he deplores the hateful language being used by ‘no’ campaigners ahead of the upcoming vote on marriage equality.

As posters saying ‘stop the fags’ allegedly appeared in Melbourne this week, the PM has called hurtful language the “weakest argument” against marriage equality, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

“I deplore disrespectful language, whether it is directed at young gay people or religious people or people of different religions,” said Turnbull in a radio interview this morning.

In the interview, Turnbull was told “respectful debate, with all due respect, is in the toilet”.

He called on Australians to support anyone who is affected by the marriage equality debate, and encouraged LGBTI people to “believe in yourself” and “be proud of yourself”.

“One of the problems in this debate is the tendency to caricature each side,” said Turnbull.

“The vast majority of people involved in this debate—and of course the vast majority of Australians, 99.99 per cent or whatever—are very respectful of each other.”

He urged people not to be “distracted by a handful of extreme and unpleasant posters or flyers”.

Voters have until August 24 to enrol or update their details to ensure they can vote in the postal poll.

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