AUSTRALIAN telephone company Telstra has come under fire after it bowed to pressure from the Catholic Church over its public support of same-sex marriage.

Telstra has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality over the past few years, most recently featuring in a full-page Australian Marriage Equality advertisement in May, 2015.

 In response to the advertisement, the Archdiocese of Sydney’s business manager Michael Digges wrote an email to all the companies participating in the campaign and threatened to boycott their services.
Telstra, which has the contract for Catholic schools across Australia, decided to back away from its public support as it “did not want to risk its commercial relationship with the church”, the Australian’s Rick Morton reported.

“The government has committed to putting same-sex marriage before the Australian people in the plebiscite, and ultimately, it will be parliament who determines any changes in the institution of marriage,” a Telstra spokesman told the Australian.

“In view of this, Telstra has no further plans to figure prominently in the wider public debate. Telstra has demonstrated it places great importance on diversity and standing against discrimination, in all its forms. Our workforce reflects this diversity, including people … in a broad range of relationships.”

Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome told the Australian that Telstra has made no request to withdraw its logos.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays spokesman Shelley Argent OAM said she was disappointed that Telstra would succumb to bullying by the Catholic Church.

Your LGBT employees must feel abandoned and not worthy in one of Australia’s largest and high profile companies. You have abandoned your LGBT employees and lowered their self esteem which will affect their productivity,” she wrote in an open letter on Facebook.

“Your web page states that you will stand against homophobia! However, you allow the Catholic church to demonstrate one of the greatest acts – deliberate exclusion, bullying and humiliation by your lack of support. Short term profit over what is morally right is nothing to be proud of.

“Shame on you, your Board and those who condoned this cowardly decision.”

In the past, Telstra has been a supporter of the LGBTQI community. Last year, the company stripped a Telstra award winner of his prize after a foul-mouthed, homophobic rant on Facebook.

It also released a video in 2011 as part of the It Gets Better campaign.

In 2008, Telstra announced it would give the partners of gay and lesbian employees equal benefits under the company’s new diversity policy.

Telstra customers and commentators have taken to social media to air their frustration and disappointment at the decision.

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