Bible Society marriage debate prompts boycott of Coopers

LGBTIQ advocates and allies are calling for a boycott of South Australian brewer Coopers after they joined forces with Bible Society Australia and Liberal MPs for a debate on marriage equality.

The video, part of a series entitled Keeping It Lightwas created to with the notion of encouraging a “light discussion on the heaviest topics.”

The second entry in the series features openly gay MP Tim Wilson and vocal opponent of marriage equality Andrew Hastie sharing their views on the matter over a commemorative light beer.

The special edition brew was commissioned to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Bible Society Australia, who have long received donations from the South Australian brewery, and features bible verses on their cartons.

‘Keeping it light’ from Bible Society Australia on Vimeo.

Former Human Rights Commissioner Wilson says in the video that he believes “that it would be sensible to change the act that deals with issues around civil marriage to include two people regardless of their gender.”

“I hold that view because I believe everybody should be encouraged to have an equal investment in society.”

“Relationships should be recognised as marriage if they’re long-term and committed, because they provide the foundations of a society going from individual to forming family, building community and ultimately country. That’s how we make a strong country and whether people are heterosexual or homosexual, we should want people committed to that.”

Hastie, the federal member for Canning, says he is for “retaining the definition of marriage, which is between a man and a woman.”

“I hold to a common view of marriage, common throughout culture and history, and that is that it’s a comprehensive union between a man and a woman, it’s equal, and it’s diverse, it’s got both genders.

“I think it’s an institution that’s grown up organically prior to politics. My view is the state shouldn’t be redefining something that exists prior to the state. So my view is we should tread lightly there. That’s not to say that Tim and Ryan, his partner, shouldn’t be afforded the same rights before the law as a married couple, I just think the definition is distinct and important.”

Members of the LGBTIQ community have slammed the brewery on social media for only giving a voice to members of the Liberal Party, who have not allowed a free vote on marriage equality and for funding a religious organisation.

Federal Greens senator Lee Rhiannon also drew attention to the brewer’s history of political donations to the Liberal Party, publishing a recent history of payments to her Facebook page.

Victorian venues Old Bar, Sircuit, and Mollies Bar & Diner and Sydney’s Newtown Hotel, Union Hotel and Hollywood Hotel have joined in a social media campaign to #BoycottCoopers in the wake of the video.

Owner of Melbourne gay bar Sircuit Chris Driscoll released a video on his personal Facebook page showing staff throwing Coopers stock in the bin, while the Newtown Hotel pledged to donate $1 from every pint sold of rival brand Rocks Brewing Company to GetUp! for their LGBTIQ advocacy.

Since the #BoycottCoopers campaign has gained momentum, Coopers have said the video was intended as “a light-hearted but balanced debate about an important topic within Australia” and that they were not attempting to “push religious messages or change your beliefs.”

In a second statement, the brewery said they had not granted permission for the Bible Society to use their beverage in the video.

“We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our Premium Light beer to feature in, or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s Keeping It Light video featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson.”

Sydney based LGBTIQ advocate and DIY Rainbows founder James ‘Breko’ Brechney has launched a petition in support of the boycott campaign, writing that Coopers’ alignment with the Bible Society is shameful.

“Coopers products are staples of straight and gay venues alike. We are calling on all individuals that support equality under the law to sign this petition to boycott all their products and for venues to re-assess and remove their supplier deals with Coopers,” the petition reads.

“We call on Coopers Brewery to publicly come out in support of Marriage Equality and to make 3 generous donations to Australians for Equality, Make It Law via PFLAG & Just.Equal.”

The petition currently has over 1,300 signatures online.

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