Coalition for Marriage won’t take legal action against venues

The Coalition for Marriage have announced that they won’t take legal action against Tasmanian venues who refused to host their seminar.

The ‘No’ campaign had difficulty in Tasmania this week after several venues turned down their booking to host a forum. One of the venue’s was Tasmania’s Wrest Point Casino, who cited security concerns, while the other venues have not been named.

The University of Tasmania, initially knocked back the group’s booking, but later changed their mind, and the rally went ahead of Friday night.

Monica Doumit, spokesperson for the anti-marriage equality group told The Australian they would not take action because one of the central issues of their campaign was a belief that business should be able to discriminate.

“We don’t want businesses to be punished in this debate and obviously part of our broader campaign and argument is that people should be free to engage in business with the events they want, as they choose.” Doumit said.

“We would obviously be on the side of a wedding reception venue to decline a same-sex wedding or a cake maker (to similarly decline), so it would be very hypocritical of us to then try and use anti-discrimination laws as a weapon. In these cases, often these businesses our acting out of fear … of protests, boycotts or even threats … and not out of a desire to discriminate.”

One of the speakers at the rally was Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi, who has also previously argued that businesses should have a right to refuse service.

In 2016 Senator Bernardi argued that businesses should have the right refuse services in a blog post under the headline ‘Freedom to Refuse Must Be Defended’.

“And this is the essence of the dilemma we now face; is it okay for any business to say they simply don’t want your business for any or no reason?” Senator Bernardi wrote. “Personally I think it is, but that freedom has to be defended and protected so that it applies to any business, no matter what side of a debate they are on.”

Earlier in the week Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop, Julian Porteous, was critical of the venue’s decision argued that not allowing the group access was an attack on ‘freedom of speech’.

“The current campaign concerning the definition of marriage requires open debate. It is the essence of a democratic society that both sides of a debate have the right to present their case.” the Archbishop said.

“To have the No campaign denied access to venues in order to express their views is a direct challenge to freedom of speech in our society.”

OIP Staff


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