As the same-sex marriage postal survey draws to a close, gay Australians are speaking out about being subjected to horrific abuse during the months-long campaign.
From bricks through windows to friends committing suicide, young people around the country want the wider Australian community to understand the postal survey has been an unpleasant ordeal for many.
Some have been abused in the street, while others have been the target of hateful graffiti and discrimination in the workplace. Still more around the country have been threatened with violence and even murder.
One Sydneysider came home to find the phrase ‘No to F*gs’ written on the property gate
Pride banners and rainbow flags hanging outside homes have been the target of hateful graffiti
A flyer reads, ‘Vote No! Homosexuality is against nature…Adam and Eve NOT Adam and Steve’
‘It is important that people understand that they are insulting, abusing and vilifying real people, real human beings,’ a 24-year-old Sydney ‘Yes’ campaigner told Daily Mail Australia.
‘This could have been peacefully resolved in parliament but instead it’s been forced into our workplaces, homes, schools and private lives. It’s tearing families apart and it’s causing irreparable harm.
‘The people whose windows are being smashed, whose houses are being defaced and whose rights are being withheld are all individuals. And they are being forced to bear the brunt of this painful debate that will ultimately decide their future.’
Gay Australians have revealed the hate they have endured from members of the ‘No’ campaign
The word ‘no’ has been graffitied on mailboxes, houses and in skywriting all over the Australia
‘A [gay] friend of mine works as a waiter at a restaurant,’ revealed a Melbourne woman.
‘He was dressed neatly, professionally, just his usual work-appropriate self.
‘He went to take an order from a customer – who immediately told him to go and get somebody else, because he refused to be served by a f***ot.
‘My girlfriend had the same slur yelled at her out of a car (amongst other choice words) when she was leaving a rally wearing a rainbow flag.
‘And I was recently told that the only good thing Hitler did was round up and kill gay people.’
‘I got threatened with rape, murder and bashing all in one day,’ one gay teenager told Daily Mail Australia.
‘And I count myself lucky because they were only threats.’
The Coalition for Marriage attracted around 1000 people at their ‘No’ rally in Darling Harbour
Even allies of the LGBTQ community are feeling the hate and vitriol – one woman was instructed not to wear any marriage equality badges in the office.
‘As a straight individual who this debate doesn’t even affect, I am still extremely offended but the hatred brought out in this survey,’ said a 24-year-old Sydney woman.
‘This week, after wearing my equality badges on my bag I was told ‘not to wear my f***ot badge’ at work. Some of the things my boss said made me physically sick.
‘He said that homosexuality was a genetic defect, that gay people are genetically programmed not to reproduce so that they become extinct. If this isn’t hatred and negativity I don’t know what is.’
The girl, who has a sister in a committed same-sex relationship, eventually resigned because of the ‘rampant homophobia’ in the office that was ‘getting [her] down every day’.
‘Seeing my sister and her girlfriend struggle has been so eye opening,’ she added. ‘As to how far we actually are from equality – we have a long, long way to go.’
Another Melbourne woman has commented that the posters that have been plastered all over the city saying ‘homosexual parents are more likely to abuse their children’ are extremely upsetting, as well as ‘just a lie’.
‘I’m drowning in the horrible stuff,’ she told the Daily Mail. ‘How can people not see it?’
One heartbroken woman claimed that her friend committed suicide after being subjected to ‘a bunch of vitriolic hate’.
‘[We are] still in a lot of pain over it – and I can’t imagine how her family and loved ones are feeling right now,’ she said.
‘It is completely unacceptable and irresponsible of the government to have this postal vote. It has literally cost lives.’
‘It has literally cost lives’: A woman has reportedly committed suicide after ‘vitriolic hate’
‘Vote No’: People against marriage equality have repeatedly used sky writing to communicate
A 23-year-old Sydneysider told Daily Mail Australia that her girlfriend has been unable to leave the house for fear of being harassed or abused again.
‘A couple of years ago, she was beaten severely enough to go into a coma because she kissed her [same-sex] partner goodbye in public,’ the woman said.
‘Despite this, she’s had mail in her letterbox telling her that she’s wrong and an abomination, and it we’ve also had our front door vandalised (graffiti with ‘die f*gs’) because we chalked a rainbow on our front wall.
‘It’s been horrible for her mental health; to top it off, because she hasn’t been able to make it into work, she recently lost her job.’
A Perth woman who suffered through homophobic bullying in high school has spoken out about the ‘horrible’ effect that the plebiscite has had on her.
‘I really thought it wasn’t going to affect me because I dealt with so much homophobic bullying from staff and students at my Christian private school but nope, apparently I am not immune quite yet,’ she said.
‘I can’t wait until it’s over…I hope people can see how vile some of the ‘No’ campaigners have been.’
‘Can’t wait until it’s over’: The ‘Yes’ campaign is in the lead as the results announcement looms
The inside of Sydney train carriages were repeatedly defaced with the words ‘Vote No To F*gs’
In September, photos surfaced of obscene graffiti inside a train carriage, including swastikas and the phrases ‘vote no! to f*gs’ and ‘f***ots not welcome’, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The photos were uploaded to the Reddit website last week by a user who said they saw the ‘absolutely f***ing disgusting’ graffiti on a train journey to Circular Quay.
Queensland police are also investigating an apparent vandalism spree in South Brisbane targeting homes flying the rainbow flag, where windows were smashed with rocks.
Property owner Ms Hill said she heard a man yelling homophobic slurs such as ‘you f***ots, you p***ters’ and that three large rocks were thrown through her windows.
A Melbourne house had its windows smashed with three rocks and was defaced with swastikas
‘It happened really fast and I was also incredibly terrified,’ she told Fairfax Media last month.
‘I’m a bi woman and one day I might want to marry the woman that I love. We live on a main street and we just wanted everyone who walks past to feel that they were loved and supported.
‘This is the first thing that I’ve experienced as blatant homophobia.’
Hundreds of people have also reported receiving hate mail from the ‘No’ campaign or from people against same-sex marriage.
Another flyer was posted into mailboxes in Sydney’s West and told people to ‘Post Your NO’
Prominent marriage equality campaigners have perhaps been targeted the worst, with explicit and cruel messages being sent straight to their phones or left on their Facebook walls.
One Sydney-based activist received dozens of messages that called her ‘the stinky unshaven p***y feminist type’ and suggesting that gay people be thrown off buildings.
Another underlined the importance of being open and attentive to the struggles of others: ‘It’s hard to understand things you’ve never ever experienced. That’s why we have to listen to minorities…That’s the best thing we can do.’
A Sydney marriage equality activist has received dozens of hurtful and abusive text messages
In the aftermath of the survey, the Australian Institute will be conducting an investigation into the impact of the debate on collective LGBTQ mental health.
Material that was damaging and misinformed is currently being collected as part of senate submission on the effects of the plebiscite on the gay community is also being prepared.
Labor’s spokeswoman for equality, Terri Butler, said the homophobic incidents were ‘abhorrent’ and underlined why a ‘national opinion poll on people’s human rights’ was a bad idea.
‘This is an inherently bad process,’ she told Fairfax Media. ‘You can try to ameliorate the worst aspects of it but you can’t fix a process that’s inherently wrong.
‘At the end of the day, we’re asking a majority to cast judgment on the human rights of a minority.’