Bill Shorten confirms he will speak on marriage equality support at ACL conference

Bill Shorten confirms he will speak on marriage equality support at ACL conference

OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten has confirmed he will use his keynote address at the Australian Christian Lobby’s National Conference this weekend as an opportunity to state his support for marriage equality.

A spokesperson from Shorten’s office has told the Star Observer that “Mr Shorten is a supporter of marriage equality and he will be making his views clear” when he addresses the ACL this weekend.

The news comes after weeks of speculation as to whether Shorten will continue to go ahead and speak at the conference despite mounting pressure to withdraw, and as Canberra’s Park Hyatt hotel faced escalating criticism this week for hosting the event that starts on Friday.

Vocal critics of the ACL have targeted the hotel via social media, asking it to reconsider hosting a group they believe is an organised and wealthy political lobby group that actively campaigns against LGBTI rights.

“I can understand that you might have initially thought the ACL booking for this Friday was for a lobby group that represented Australian Christians,” rights activist Simon Hunt, aka Pauline Pantsdown, wrote on Facebook.

“Sadly, this is an anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTI fringe group that support the expulsion of LGBTI children from schools, misquote science in order to equate LGBTI people with disease, and lie to a lot more people than just a hotel booking agent.”

A spokesperson from the hotel chain has told the Star Observer that it is genuinely taking the comments on board and reiterated the company’s long-time support for the LGBTI community. However, the conference will go ahead as planned.

“Hyatt Hotel Canberra is listening to feedback via social media channels, we hear the LGBTI community’s concern that the ACL are holding an event at the hotel and would like you to know that we don’t always agree with the views of those who meet at our hotels but we don’t discriminate against guests who want to conduct lawful business at Hyatt hotels,” the spokesperson said.

The hotel chain also stated that the ACL choosing the Hyatt as their host venue did not “amount to our endorsement of any particular group of people”.

The Hyatt Hotel chain has consistently performed well in the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Commission — the largest advocacy group for LGBTI Americans — often placing in the top 10 of LGBTI-friendly workplaces in the US.

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said that the organisation has been saddened by the “vitriolic” social media campaign, which included ACL members being likened to Neo-Nazis and the Klu-Klux Klan.

“Apart from being untrue, this is very distressing to me, my staff and our families,” Shelton said in an ACL statement.

“Pearl clutching, haters, bigots, faeces, racist, and cult are just some of the vile insults in post after post urging our conference venue, the Hyatt, to cancel our conference.

“We have a view about marriage that is the same as a strong majority of federal parliamentarians and yet it seems that this is what is causing the outpouring of vitriol against us on Facebook.”

Shelton challenged the ACL’s critics to provide proof that the organisation was the hate group they have accused of being.

“We have been involved in a robust political debate, driven by others, in recent years. I would invite anyone to produce evidence that we are any of the things of which we are being accused,” he said.

“It would be a sad day for free speech and tolerance if promoting marriage was no longer allowed.”

In emails obtained by the Star Observer that were distributed to ACL members, chief of staff Martyn Iles said the conference has “come under an extraordinary and unprovoked attack”.

“A number of extreme gay activists are trying to shut down our National Conference,” Iles wrote.

“They have left hundreds, if not thousands of hateful reviews on the Hyatt Hotel’s website, attacking them for hosting our conference about religious freedom.

“These comments are disgusting.”

Iles also highlighted supposed contradictions in ACL opponents attacking a company that actually supports LGBTI rights.

“They’re even more extraordinary given the fact the Hyatt company have been one of the biggest global supporters of redefining marriage,” he said.

“Now the Hyatt have learned what fickle friends sections of the gay lobby can be.

“We’ve held many wonderful, Christ-honouring events there. And despite our difference of opinion over marriage, they’ve always treated us professionally and with dignity and respect.”

In response to continued criticism for not pulling out of the conference all together, the Opposition Leader’s spokesperson reiterated that he often spoke to a range of organisations that held diverse views.

“Of course, he does not always agree with all of the views of those organisations he speaks to,” the spokesperson told the Star Observer.

“It is important for the Leader of the Opposition to speak to the Australian community about what he believes and what Labor’s priorities are.”

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard pulled out of the 2012 ACL national conference following claims from deputy chairman Jim Wallace where he inferred the risk from a “homosexual lifestyle” presented a greater health hazard than smoking.

Gillard described the comments as “heartless and wrong”.

Wallace will speak again this weekend’s conference, along with Baptist pastor and radio host Karl Faase, incoming Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher, religious liberty analyst Elizabeth Kendal, Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash, researcher Paul Henderson and Blair federal Labor MP Shayne Neumann.

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65 responses to “Bill Shorten confirms he will speak on marriage equality support at ACL conference”

  1. If the Hyatt management had their house vandalised, and someone try and kill them, and then when they try and and marry, have to leave Australia, they might understand my experience of homophobia. When the Hyatt management has their first love die in what is now called a hate crime, I am pretty certain none of them would allow their facilities to be used by cults that call them a cancer, a cult at the intersection of hate crimes and harm, a cult that is the final push for some of us doing it tough. What else do we do to cancer but destroy it right?

    Bill Shorten is no Whitlam, he lacks humanity, and is throwing breadcrumbs at the poor, dog Whistling. In his mind, pleasing the Christian Lobby, giving a voice of hate legitimacy, is pleasing GLBTI voters. But Bill has setup Labor so it can never have the numbers to support Equality, with homophobes in like Joe Bullock elected to the senate over Louise Pratt, and more recently, his faction was caught trying to dump Penny Wong from the senate ticket in WA. He is a bully.

    I spent over 14k at the Hyatt last financial year, this will not happen again if the Hyatt chooses to support a group that is at the intersection homophobia that kills more Australians then terrorism. I am really disappointed such a nice hotel could harbour a cult that talks about us like the Islamic State talks about Westerners. Surley that Hyatt is not that hard up for buck it would turn to host groups that seek the destruction of what they call a cancer, that is GLBTI Australians. I hope the recognise the long term damage done to the Hyatt brand by getting into bed with a cult most Christian find offensive, let alone the general public.

  2. As usual Australia refuses to join in with the rest of the western world and move forward on marriage equality. Both Labor and Liberal parties are to blame for this stupid political mess!

    Does Labor want to re-introduce both Slavery and the White Australia Policy as well?

  3. Called. The lady who answers the call was very nice and friendly. However, I am so surprised that I was actually that emotional during the whole phone conversation. Yes, sometime we forgot what we have been through and we tend to move on. It is good to have a chance to refresh the memory and review the old scares and to carry on the good fight.

  4. I am writing to ask that you cancel your engagement to speak at the conference of the Australian Christian Lobby this year.

    As a human being, and a Mum, I am appalled that you are doing this, I am teaching my children to respect and the value of equality in all areas. By speaking to this group, you are a voice against what I is right.
    The only way I can take action against you….is by my vote, and you will never have mine, and, your position is so weak already.
    I cannot morally support a party that can do this, supporting so much suffering onto people who just want what we all do, equality.

    I also am dumb founded how Religion has so much control in Politics and you are lead by them.
    Disgusting, offensive.

  5. This is about the LEADER of the opposition talking to one of the most anti-gay groups around.Both previous Labor leaders have contributed to the stalling of ME.This is just adding justification to their views

    • Please just remember what the alternative is! Abbott. And if you think Shorten has been an ineffective Opposition leader then you would have to agree that Abbott has been a worse PM.

  6. I don’t think Shorten has been a particularly good ‘performer’, but I am interested to see what he says at the Conference.

    I don’t agree with the vast majority of anything that the ACL says, but they do have a legal right to hold their Conference at the Hyatt. I would prefer to work towards removing religious exemptions on discounting on the basis of sexuality and gender expression than try to shut down the ACL conference.

    The LGBTI community needs allies and spending all our time trying to shut down discussion, even if it is unlikely to change many involved with ACL, is likely to alienate many more.

    Social media activism may be easy for many to achieve, writing a bad review or posting on an organisations facebook page – but perhaps try to harder route, get out and work towards law reform.

  7. The point is not to attend the conference. Otherwise you are giving the legitimate reasons to an organization who set their focus mainly for anti gay.

  8. Heres another number you can call to voice your disgust Sydney City Electorate Office is Deputy Leader Tanya.Plibersek Deputy Leader Maybe she can talk some sense into him Tel: (02) 9379 0700

  9. More political speak. “I will say I support marriage equality” to keep us happy, but he won’t say anything the ACL doesn’t to hear to keep them happy. No spine, no social conscience, no guts. None of them have. Our political landscape is so barren of fortitude it makes me sick.

  10. Bill Shorten is pathetic ,labor will never win an election with him as there even have your name mentioned along with this pathetic homophobic group is a disgrace .

  11. PATHETIC.The ridiculous thing about this is when I called his office they said ‘ Oh he supports gay marriage’ and he will be talking about it there.Bill dear…these people don’t even accept us being GAY actually they despise GLBTIQ These are not the people you should be trying to tell you support ME You should be spending time on people that will support ME and work a bit more than your predecessors did to get ME.It its shameful that Australia is so far behind in basic human rights.In fact its a disgrace.

    • I think it is much more important he turns up and tells them they need to evolve their perspective.

      If he ignores them they won’t go away, they’ll just lobby the other side of politics – probably behind closed doors (as they did in Qld when Newman tore the guts out of Bligh’s Civil Unions legislation)

    • Matthew unfortunately what history tells us is that these people will never change their attitudes.They are not the group Bill Shorten should be talking to.They already do lobby the other side.Its time for Labor to start working with their own MPs/other groups for ME.They have stuffed it up so far.Just look at the damage Julia Gillard did with her anti ME views.

    • Why do they have to work for you? (I’m joking, I know you don’t mean “me”).

      I don’t think you win anything in demonising the demon. Let’s face it anyone who listens to ACL is not going to vote Labor.

    • YES exactly MARRIAGE EQUALITY and no there is no joke about it Oh and yes history fortunately or unfortunately history will tell you a lot Have you actually read what they believe in? Have you actually talked to them? .. Google it or look at the petition If you think Bill Shorten speaking to the fringe of the Xtian debate or whatever you want to call them is good well I suggest you have a good think again.And Just so you just have a good think Australia is 20 years behind in ME.This is a national disgrace.Have a good think mate