Dear Malcolm, please end the marriage survey trauma
Dear Malcolm Turnbull.
It's time to shut down the marriage equality survey for good.
Yes. Ending this public farce means we will waste 120 million taxpayer dollars and it will leave you, and your prime ministership, teetering on the edge of destruction.
But those costs are nothing compared to the emotional toll imposed on countless queer Australians, their families, friends and supporters over the past few weeks.
You probably think your vision of "respectful debate" - as you termed it - is going well but have you, personally, dipped your toe into the ocean of homophobia seeping into every corner of our great country?
I'm not an expert on politics, but as a gay woman I know a thing or two about homophobia.
Since the survey was announced, I've made it my business to collect evidence of attacks on the queer community.
Thus far I've shared more than 150 examples of this under the hashtag #respectfuldebate.
I hope you don't mind, Mr Turnbull, but I've taken the liberty of highlighting a few of the worst moments thus far.
"You feral scum pushing disease on our children. Scum I'll give u a yes same sex scum. I know your house. I hope your kids get bashed."
This anonymous letter turned up a few days ago in a Melbourne family's letter box that carried a marriage equality support sticker.
What would you do if you found something like this on your property?
How would you turn off the fear that the writer might target your children because they thought you were gay?
Or how about if:
- Someone tore down and burnt the marriage equality flag you proudly hung in your front yard (Brunswick, September);
- Someone rubbed faeces all over your marriage equality mailbox (Sydney, October);
- Someone defaced your property with swastikas (Brisbane, September);
- Someone threw rocks through your windows because you have a gay pride flag at your home (Brisbane, September)
- A wall near your home was graffitied with things such as "vote no to 2 gays yuk" (Melbourne, September); or
- You discovered obscene graffiti inside a train carriage including swastikas, "vote no! to fags" and "faggots not welcome" all over the train you take to work (Sydney, September)?
I'm not sure about you Mr Turnbull, but I really appreciate homophobic (and racist) attacks the most when I'm going about my daily business, like getting from A to B in a car. "Only the Illuminati Jewish media sell-out government and homosexuals want gay marriage. Wake up sheeples. Research the new world order sheeple." These were the words that adorned a bed sheet (complete with crudely drawn sex organs) hanging over the M1 freeway in Brisbane this week.
We all know people love hanging propaganda posters on street poles. Here's a ripper that popped up in Coburg, Victoria, the other day. "All Australians ... join the voting. For protecting your family. Say NO to homosexuals. Mark NO to the same sex marriage. For protecting your children. For safeguarding your family tree not to be chopped off. Say NO to the deadly homosexuals. Mark NO to the deadly same sex bondage."
There are many memes, posters and other materials implying gay men are paedophiles doing the rounds of social media. They are so disgusting and hurtful that I cannot validate their existence by revealing their contents here. In fact, one no campaigner has been driving around Tamworth with a "stop the fags" poster plus pieces of offensive propaganda stuck to a trailer.
And we can't forget the ongoing assertions that gay parents will destroy the lives of their own children and make other people's kids gay.
Did you know that there was even a suggestion that faith-based schools be allowed to ban gay students or refuse to enrol kids of gay parents?
I've got no idea how many times I've heard that marriage equality will end free speech, lead to "radical gay sex" education in schools, eradicate the terms wife and husband from the English language, destroy Christmas, Father's Day and Mother's Day and most of all, ruin religious freedom.
At the end of the day, the marriage equality debate has been anything but respectful, with many extremely disturbing examples of horrific hate-filled messages levelled at LGBTIQ people over the past few weeks.
Sadly, it's getting worse the closer we crawl to the November survey deadline.
Mr Turnbull, I'm fairly sure this letter will mean very little to you. I suspect you won't read it because you're a busy man, running a country and making life-changing decisions designed to improve our way of life.
Most likely this plea will appear on one of your media minder's radars for a few fleeting seconds and then it be will be dropped into the "there's no political mileage in this" basket.
Mr Turnbull, it would restore my confidence in you if you did take the time to consider my words and I am happy for you to drop me a line so I can will send you every piece of gay hate material I've found in this survey period.
Perhaps this evidence will encourage you to pull the plug on the survey.
And if that's not enough, then maybe, just maybe, the damage to the impressionable minds of our young gay people will be.
I believe the emotional and psychological trauma from the marriage equality debate will end in tragedy.
An Australian will kill themselves because they cannot endure the thought of being gay in a such a hostile world.
Imagine being a questioning young uni student who, on campus where they should be safe, discovered posters depicting a man shooting himself along with the message: "16% of Sodomites have attempted suicide. Up to 50% of trans people have attempted suicide. Join your fellow faggots."
These posters were discovered around Swinburne University and University of Tasmania in September.
Mental health organisations are counting the cost as more LGBTIQ people seek help to deal with the psychological fallout of this unnecessary and divisive debate.
"We're certainly hearing things around young people saying 'am I a freak', 'will I be accepted'?" ReachOut's chief xecutive officer told the ABC recently.
Mr Turnbull, it's time to ask yourself "is this survey worth losing lives over?"
If you don't mind having blood on your hands, by all means keep the process going.
But if the idea of people killing themselves because of the trauma wrought by this survey hits home, then it is time for you to show true leadership and bring down the curtain on one of our nation's darkest moments.
- For 24-hour mental health support call Beyondblue on 1300 224 636, Lifeline on 131 114 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
News Corp journalist Sherele Moody is the recipient of 2017 Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her coverage of domestic violence issues.