A little under a year ago, a group of Australian businesses took out ads in all the country’s major newspapers to give an unambiguous thumbs up for marriage equality. The Mamamia Women’s Network was among them, as was Telstra.
It seems Telstra’s commitment to equal rights for all Aussie citizens wasn’t exactly iron-clad, however, amid reports the company is now winding back support for same-sex unions.
According to the Australian, Telstra bowed to pressure from the Catholic Church after they dangled the threat of possible boycott by church-goers.
“You may be aware that the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international,” Archdiocese of Sydney business manager Michael Digges wrote in a letter.
“Undoubtedly, many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners and suppliers. It is therefore with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign.”
A spokesperson from the telco confirmed the company had “no further plans to figure prominently in the wider public debate”, saying the Government’s incredibly costly and not-at-all-binding plebiscite planned for sometime after the next election, ought to decide the issue.
“Ultimately, it will be parliament who determines any changes to the institution of marriage,” the spokesperson said.
The public response has been swift and it has been brutal. As it turns out, at least a few of the 7 in 10-ish Australians in favour of a ‘yes’ vote weren’t too impressed with the apparent back flip.
Here’s a sample from just a few unhappy customers:
Previously Telstra were highly visible supporters of the marriage equality movement. Their logo still appears prominently on the Australian Marriage Equality website, their disco phone booths at Mardi Gras, hard to miss.
The company’s chief executive Andrew Penn released a statement today confirming the decision “not to publicly participate in the debate further” has indeed been made.
“Telstra supports marriage equality as part of the great importance we place on diversity and standing against all forms of discrimination,” he wrote.
“Equally we recognise there are many and varied views and if we are all truly accepting of diversity, there should be room made for all of them.
He made no mention of the Catholic Church, one mention of the forthcoming plebiscite and promised they weren’t abandoning their “tradition of supporting diversity and inclusion, be it in the community or in our workplace”– just doing it silently and invisibly from now on.
Meanwhile the world has a message for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull…