The director of a bioethics centre funded by the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane has claimed that Australian advocates of marriage equality’s real agenda is to “rid society of the institution of marriage”.

On the front page of the Catholic Leader newspaper, Queensland Bioethics Centre bioethicist Ray Campbell said allowing same-sex couples to wed would constitute discrimination “on a massive scale” against married heterosexuals.

“The advocates of same-sex marriage want to create a new public institution and they want to call this new institution ‘marriage’,” said Campbell, who claimed the issue raised the question of whether clergy could be sued for refusing to marry gay couples, and whether Catholic priests would find themselves in “cooperation with an immoral law” if they continued to marry people under an amended Marriage Act.

Campbell told the Star Observer “gay literature” backed up his claims.

“Some of the advocates for gay marriage from the gay community are quite clear that they don’t believe in marriage as an institution and they understand that in extending marriage to same-sex couples they undermine the very rationale for marriage,” Campbell said.

However, when contacted by phone Campbell was not able to name a publication or group that had laid out such an agenda.

Campbell offered to supply examples but none were received before going to print.

Campbell was aware that no jurisdiction in the world that had legalised same-sex marriage had required clergy to perform them, but said the issue raised the question nonetheless.

“It’s one of the questions that would have to be taken into consideration,” he said.

Asked how same-sex marriage discriminated against those currently married, Campbell said it would cause people who had entered into a social institution to find it changed around them.

Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich told the Star Observer he knew of no advocate of same-sex marriage in Australia with the agenda Campbell described.

“The people who are fighting for marriage equality are not people with secret ideologies- they are people like me who just want to marry the person they love in the country they love,” he said.

“I’ve heard some ridiculous claims in the past — everything from same-sex marriage will lead to humans marrying aliens to claim MSG makes you gay — but this one tops them all.

“If our opponents are having to grasp at straws like this, they can probably be identified as the losers in this argument already.”

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