The Australian, Rebecca Urban
The family of a Victorian woman who fronts a national TV campaign opposing same-sex marriage has been vilified on social media and their church threatened with violence after LGBTI activists falsely claimed they were behind an ad in the local newspaper critical of homosexuality.
Heidi McIvor, her husband Julian McIvor and the City Builders Church in Sale, where they both work as pastors, have been subjected to false accusations and insults over an unattributed ad in The Gippsland Times a week ago urging people to vote against changing the Marriage Act.
Ms McIvor did not pay for the ad to be placed. Nor did Mr McIvor, who is also the advertising manager at the local paper. The church has previously campaigned for traditional marriage.
The parents of two have been accused of spreading hate speech and being morally bankrupt. Their names and phone numbers have been splashed all over Facebook, resulting in Mr McIvor being hit with a steady stream of abuse.
“I hope he hasn’t got children that have his DNA,” one Facebook post read.
“Let’s burn there (sic) church,” piped in another.
The “heinous, vile, f. king bizarre advertisement”, as it has been described, has been interpreted as a slight on LGBTI people, those who have used adoption services or IVF, and single parents.
“When the wife’s egg is fertilised by the husband’s sperm in the marital act of love, a flash of light occurs and a baby is conceived,” the ad stated.
“This is not physically possible for two people of the same sex. A baby produced has to be manufactured.”
Retired farmer Pat O’Brien, the father of Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien, has since claimed responsibility for the ad, but Ms McIvor is bracing for another round of the battle — a likely side effect of agreeing to take part in the Coalition for Marriage’s TV ad.
The ad features three mothers talking about politically correct sexuality education, such as the Safe Schools program, which has been criticised for teaching gender fluidity and crossing the line between education and advocacy in the classroom.
“I’m not worried about a backlash because I’m not worried about having a conversation or having a debate with anybody,” Ms McIvor said.
“What does worry me though is that it seems that no one can put forward an alternative opinion about marriage without it descending into personal attacks and threats.”
Fellow campaigner Cella White has been accused of falsifying her claim that her son was told by a schoolteacher that “he could wear a dress to school next year if he wanted”.
Fairfax Media yesterday reported that the principal of the school, Frankston High in Melbourne, said Ms White’s claim had no substance.
“I have never had any complaints that we advised the boys they could wear dresses,” principal John Albiston said. “We didn’t offer them that option.”
Ms White last night angrily stood by her claim. “I spoke to the deputy principal, I spoke to the school chaplain, I spoke to two people from the Department of Education. I even spoke to the front-office lady,” she said. “To suggest that the school was not aware of my concerns is a lie.”
Ms McIvor said she had conducted her own research into the Safe Schools program and was active in a Facebook group with other concerned parents.
And while she’s worked on staff for various politicians in the past, including former Family First senator Steven Fielding, she insisted she was not a “political activist”, simply a “concerned mother” who wanted her children to be able to attend public school “without being indoctrinated”.
While critics of the television ad have argued that same-sex marriage has nothing to do with the Safe Schools program, which has been defunded by the federal government but remains compulsory in Victorian secondary schools, Ms McIvor said international experience suggested otherwise.