Unauthorised election flyers printed in Mandarin and promoting the Christian Democratic Party warned that homosexuality was a "death curse" and said allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice would increase instances of rape.
The flyers were distributed on Saturday in the Eastwood area of the Sydney electorate of Bennelong, comfortably held by the Liberals' John Alexander.
The flyer said that homosexuality causes people to die without having kids, and is therefore a "death curse" to families.
It also warned that a Labor victory would mean the removal of male and female public toilets.
"If any man thinks he is a female, he can go to the female toilet legally, even in the school," the note reads.
"Therefore, criminals and rapists will have the chance to pretend to be a transgender female to enter a female toilet. You can imagine the female toilet will be a place where women are being raped."
The flyer outlines the same-sex marriage policies of Labor, the Greens, the Liberal party and the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) , and suggests voters adopt the following preferences in the Senate:
- Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
- Liberals and Nationals
- Democratic Labour Party
- Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
- Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party
- Family First
Earlier this week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported messages sent on Chinese language messaging app WeChat had targeted Labor on the issue of same-sex marriage in the marginal seats of Reid, Banks and Barton.
A spokesperson for the CDP told BuzzFeed News they did not know who had distributed the flyers and that they had been careful to authorise all CDP material.
"People have gone off on their own and done it," they said.
The flyers appear to be connected with a community meeting held at Eastwood Public School on June 25.
Advertisements for the meeting, which were placed in Eastwood letterboxes, signalled it was being held to discuss marriage, the Safe Schools program, and Australian border security and refugee policy.
A man named William, listed as the contact for the meeting, told BuzzFeed News no particular group or church was behind the unauthorised election flyers.
"It's a group of citizens who are not happy with what Labor and the Greens are saying," he said.
William said that a small number of flyers had been distributed in the Eastwood area. When asked for his surname, William said he wanted to end the conversation and hung up.
Labor candidate for Bennelong, Lyndal Howison, told BuzzFeed News the people handing out the flyers and the CDP volunteers appeared to be working together on election day.
"It seemed that they either knew each other socially, or there was a conscious effort to separate the distribution, but the two were connected, from what I could see," she said. "They were talking, and coordinating with each other in terms of pointing out where voters were entering the polling places, things like that."
The CDP spokesperson said it was "possible" that people in the two groups knew each other, but stressed the flyer had not come from the CDP.
Howison, who did not win the seat, said she was "very disappointed" by the claims made on the flyer.
"I overheard a conversation that the Safe Schools program was trying to make small children think that they were gay," she said.
"I interrupted and said this is actually not a Labor policy, it was initiated by Labor and launched by Tony Abbott. The lady handing out the flyers said ‘No no, all the information you need is on the internet. Look up the website.’ There was the implication that what I was telling the candidate was not correct. And that’s a worry."
"This is not about sour grapes," she added. "I didn’t win my seat, and that’s fine, that’s democracy. But you want to make sure that when people number their box, they’re doing it based on the facts."
The Eastwood booth saw a significant 12.6% swing away from Labor and a 6.67% swing towards the CDP. The overall swings in the seat of Bennelong were 3.75% away from Labor and 4.22% toward the CDP.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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