An Australian group is using the late South African leader Nelson Mandela to argue against same-sex marriage.
Flyers handed out in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby warn parents about the content of the Safe Schools Coalition, an anti-bullying program aimed at helping LGBTI students, linking the program to same-sex marriage.
The flyers appear to be distributed by a group called Children's Future, which has a website focused on opposition to same-sex marriage.
Mandela, who negotiated the end of apartheid in South Africa, is pictured on the flyer and quoted as saying "Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future."
Directly beneath the Mandela quote, the flyer reads "Protect your children. Oppose the Safe Schools Program now!"
The flyer is riddled with factual errors typically put forward by groups opposing the LGBTI anti-bullying program, including incorrect claims that the program teaches children "gay and lesbian sexual techniques" and encourages cross-dressing and gender transition for children.
Hornsby woman Fi Stevenson, who saw the flyers when her female partner found one in their letterbox, told BuzzFeed News they are "incredibly offensive".
"If we put something like that in the letterbox about Muslims, we'd be absolutely slammed. I'm just flabbergasted," she said.
Stevenson said she is worried the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality would amplify such anti-LGBTI rhetoric and make her feel unwelcome in Sydney's North Shore.
"I've never felt shunned by anyone in my community," she said.
The linking of Safe Schools and same-sex marriage aligns with recent comments from leaders of the "no" campaign, who have said that the $7.5 million in public funds provided during the plebiscite will be used to campaign on issues unrelated to marriage.
Australian Christian Lobby leader Lyle Shelton recently told ABC Radio that the "no" camp would campaign against the anti-bullying program and issues such as anti-discrimination laws for LGBTI people.
"[The money] will go towards the airing the concerns of a whole range of consequences that flow from taking gender out of marriage,” Shelton said.
The Children's Future website is linked to an ABN registered to a North Sydney office.
It is unknown whether Children's Future is affiliated with any of the current major groups opposing marriage equality and the Safe Schools Coalition. However, the group's website links out to several, including the Australian Christian Lobby, Marriage Alliance, the Australian Marriage Forum and the Marriage Equals website.
Children's Future did not respond to requests for comment.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at email@example.com.
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