POLITICS

A Leading Marriage Equality Opponent Is Triggered By Kissing

And she doesn't want her kids "being read books with people kissing in it".

13/09/2017 3:25 PM AEST | Updated 14/09/2017 11:19 AM AEST
Fairfax Media
Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and Karina Okotel, Vice President of the Federal Liberal Party, at the National Press Club.

CANBERRA -- As Australia hurtles through the marriage equality postal survey period, it seems those keen to keep marriage as it is aren't only against same-sex relationships -- they're offended by the very act of kissing itself.

Leading marriage equality opponents Lyle Shelton and Karina Okotel appeared at the National Press Club on Wednesday, presenting the "no" case.

Following separate speeches which veered into weird territory more than once (more on that later), the pair took questions from journalists. During her speeches, Okotel -- who is also the vice president of the federal Liberal Party -- cited the case of a school which read a book to their children which featured a gay couple kissing.

"When parents complained about a picture book shown to children with a same-sex couple kissing, the school said they'll continue to read the books," she said with shock.

Following a question from a journalist about her objection to this, Okotel claimed she didn't oppose the book because it featured a gay couple kissing, but because it featured... well... kissing in general.

"My issue with images like two people kissing, whether they be of the same sex or opposite sexes is that I believe it should be up to a parent to decide when their child is exposed to sexualised content. That, to my mind, is sexualised content," she said.

"I wouldn't be happy with my children in the early years of primary school being read books with people kissing in it. That's my right as a parent to be able to choose when my child is exposed to that."

Because, of course, it's not as though kids would be exposed to kissing any other way -- through the medium of children's movies, for instance.

Oh wait...

Oh no!

Avert your eyes, children!

You must look away!

Presumably, Okotel does not expose her children to the filth and smut of Disney movies. But if you can forgive us for inadvertently exposing you to the above explicit material, there were a few other moments during the National Press Club address which you should know about.

Such as Lyle Shelton blatantly saying homophobia wasn't a real thing in Australia today.

"Benjamin Law also says same-sex marriage is far from the last frontier in the battle against homophobia, whatever that is," Shelton said, referencing the author and columnist who recently published an essay on the Safe Schools program.

Another journalist asked him about the "whatever that is" comment, where Shelton backed in his dubious assertion that homophobia was not an issue.

"I don't think it exists much in our country. Maybe there's some people who have that, but I think the vast majority of people that are engaging this debate from our side who are concerned don't bear ill will or animosity towards their fellow Australians regardless of their gender or sexual identity. I certainly don't," Shelton said.

"Homophobia implies irrational fear. That's not where the Coalition for Marriage is coming from, it's not where I'm coming from, I have been involved in this debate for a long time and I just think it's a convenient slur often used to try and intimidate people like us into silence."

The claim, in the face of much evidence, that homophobia was not an issue in Australia echoed comments from Tony Abbott in a newspaper opinion piece on Tuesday where he too claimed "it's a long time, thank God, since gay people have been discriminated against".

Shelton and Okotel also made their arguments about bakers and florists being persecuted in a marriage equality world, tried to raise fears about same-sex marriage leading to children being deprived of both a father and mother (despite gay couples having been allowed to adopt children for years now), and basically attempted to talk up the "what consequences yet lie ahead?" angle.

But really, it's hard to go past the offensive kissing argument.

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