1. The main committee room in Canberra’s Parliament House has been quietly booked out by an unnamed MP for an anti-gay marriage summit promoted by the World Congress of Families.
The coalition of anti-gay marriage and pro-life groups will hold the summit next Wednesday, August 27 on what they are calling ‘National Marriage Day’, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Australia’s Marriage Amendment Act of 2004 that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The World Congress of Families (the organisers of the controversial “Pro-Life Olympics”) is to hold its regional conference in a Melbourne school hall two days later and BuzzFeed has learned some members will attend the Canberra summit.
The arrival of WCF members at Parliament House will come just weeks after senior Government Minister Eric Abetz got into hot water for publicly supporting more controversial views – such as its belief that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.
Lectures will be held in the “Main Committee Room” which a Parliament House spokeswoman told BuzzFeed had to be booked by a sitting member.
The spokeswoman would not say which sitting member had booked the space and several Coalition MPs refused to disclose who had assisted in organising the summit.
2. “It’s disappointing that government members are bringing the World Congress of Families to Parliament,” said Greens spokeswoman on gay and gender issues, Sarah Hanson Young.
“Having said that, the best way to shore up support for marriage equality is to let these groups speak their mind. The passage of time will not be kind to these homophobic and outdated social views.”
The anti-gay marriage lobby group Australian Family Association is the named organiser of ‘National Marriage Day’ and its President Terri Kelleher turned down repeated requests for interview from BuzzFeed.
It’s understood the conference will repeat the speakers twice throughout the day and include Dr Allan Tapper from the Curtin Institute of Public Policy, WA who has in the past argued that divorce and separation are large contributors to the crime rate.
He’ll be joined by anti-gay marriage campaigner Peter Westmore from the Catholic-group the National Civic Council, who links children growing up outside “stable families” to “juvenile crime, drug taking and mental issues”.
One of the visiting chair-people of the day is expected to be New Zealand Family First head Bob McCroskie, who earlier this year handed in his celebrant licence in reaction to his country’s passage of same-sex marriage laws.
The Prime Minister’s office have not responded to BuzzFeed’s request to know if Mr Abbott will attend any of the sessions.
It’s not the first time ‘National Marriage Day’ has been held in Canberra, but next Wednesday’s summit comes just days before the World Congress of Families’ regional conference.