Australia risks an Orwellian erosion of free speech if same-sex marriage legislation succeeds in Australia, a controversial Canadian author has warned a Wollongong audience.
Dawn Stefanowicz is the daughter of a heterosexual mother and a homosexual father, who died of AIDS in 1991. She has since written a book, Out from Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, detailing her early exposure to sexually explicit experiences and abuse at the hand of her father.
In Wollongong on Tuesday, Mrs Stefanowicz criticised the ‘‘loss of religious freedoms’’ she said had resulted from Canada’s refusal to allow speech or behaviours that ‘‘hurt people’s feelings’’.
She criticised the powers given to the country’s two layers of human rights authorities and laws preventing business owners from declining service to LGBTI customers.
‘‘If you disagree with a same-sex couple coming to your bed and breakfast, you cannot decline them the service,’’ she said.
‘‘Our speech is policed. Any citizen that is seated here that disagrees with anything I’ve said and says, ‘you’ve hurt my feelings’ – they could go to the Human Rights Commission.
‘‘They [the commission] can take my laptop, my files and investigate me into my home – they’ll have access into my home office to look at all the materials. I’ll have to incur legal charges ... amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.’’
She told the audience Canadian pastors and priests felt they couldn’t talk about what their version of marriage was, for fear of being charged under human rights legislation.
‘‘The children, through anti-bullying programs, are taught to be thought police – like little brown shirts – to basically tell on other children who have said something politically incorrect, homophobic, heterosexist, representative of maybe something that came from a religious community,’’ she said.
‘‘So that child now will put the family of risk of being investigated because that child has just expressed what he or she believes.
‘‘Know this: that if same-sex marriage passes here in Australia, visibly you will see certain things, but underneath you will see an erosion of your freedoms.’’
Ms Stefanowicz was visiting Wollongong’s Centro Function Centre Tuesday as part of a tour organised by the Australian Family Association, addressing a small gathering that included Wollongong Bishop Peter Ingham and Fatherhood Foundation founder Warwick Marsh.