15/09/2017 5:34 PM AEST | Updated 16/09/2017 9:51 AM AEST

The 'Civil' Same-Sex Marriage Debate Hits A Low In First Week Of Postal Voting

Children are targets and it's not right.

The first week of voting in the Federal Government's same sex marriage survey started on a low note and managed, by the end of the week, to have sunk even lower.

The "defenders" of traditional marriage now see children as fair go in the "civil" debate on same-sex marriage, if the past few days are anything to go by.

The week started with optimism. Joyous marriage equality rallies across the country amid an otherwise poisonous atmosphere that's led to LGBTQ Australians having to hear praise of Hitler's treatment of gay people 'in their own concentration camps' while looking at posters bearing vile homophobic slurs in their cities.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he wants 'yes' campaigners to get out of his face, while others have even tried arguing homophobia doesn't exist in modern Australia.

On Monday National's senator Matt Canavan told everyone worried about the tone of the same-sex marriage debate they were "delicate little flowers" and ought to "grow a spine" -- a response was prompted by the National Mental Health Commission expression of "alarm" at the debate's detrimental mental health impacts.

Meanwhile prominent 'no' campaigner Lyle Shelton believes the widely discredited 'gay conversion therapy' should be available for children in Australia. Former Prime Minister John Howard hopped on board, demanding the Government release its plans on how to handle "parental rights", "freedom of speech" and show how "religious freedoms will be protected" after the vote.

"The Government's response has been to wash its hands of any responsibility," Howard said.

All of this is nothing more than a tactic to win votes, and now children are being used as ammunition.

"Linking marriage equality to the care of vulnerable children is a tactic to win votes that shows no respect for the children concerned and may load more discrimination and hurt on them, their parents and siblings," said Dr Janet Berry from The Queensland Action Group for LGBTIQ+ Students.

"Try to imagine the constant daily struggle of masquerading as someone you are not. It is inconceivable to those of us who don't need to."

A quick scan of actor and comedian Josh Thomas' Twitter hashtag, #theygettovote, shows a bleak world of hate, homophobia and bullying LGBTQ Australians have had to put up with most of their lives.

And amid the fearful rhetoric, there have been some truely ridiculous positions taken by some prominent 'noers'.

Tasmania's Police Minister Rene Hidding decided to announce this week he'd start scrapbooking the Yes campaign's "media bias", and Pauline Hanson is scared marriage equality could result in a ban on children calling their parents "mum and dad".

There are few places in Australia untouched by this debate now.

And then there's the Prime Minister.

Malcolm Turnbull -- whose postal survey is widely seen as an exercise in political acrobatics to stave off internal ructions in his own party -- is quietly campaigning for same sex-marriage.

But he's taken a largely back-seat in this debate since the start.

Despite the Prime Minister's personal views, it's unlikely his predecessor Kevin Rudd will forgive him while such viciousness to be uncorked.

This week Rudd posted a picture of his godson, Sean, allegedly bashed while standing up for same-sex marriage against a man reportedly shouting homophobic abuse the day before the postal ballot began to arrive in mail boxes.

The ABS started sending out surveys on Tuesday, and expects to have all forms mailed out by September 25. People have until November 7 to return their surveys by post.