As Australia's Labor opposition shapes up to block a national vote on marriage equality on the grounds it will do untold harm to LGBT Australians, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull continues to insist that a debate on marriage equality laws will be "respectful".
The prime minister insists vulnerable LGBT Australians won't be endangered by a national debate, so we asked LGBT people in Australia about the harassment they experience every day.
A warning, many of these comments contain homophobic slurs.
“I was working at KFC on the drive thru, handing out the food at the window and this man started abusing me, telling me to kill myself and calling me a ‘filthy faggot’ who should rot in hell.”
“Frankly, as a teenager this plebiscite scares the crap out of me.” - Anonymous
"I'm a young LGBT person. I was once called out a faggot by group of passers-by while running around my local park."
"At school there is constant degrading of LGBT people through poor language, like faggot, homo, and "OMG you're so gay. Stop being so gay. Why didn't you take your gay away pills?" - Anonymous
“In my year 11 PDHPE class we had an activity where we had a list of fictional people and some information about them (e.g. their occupation, age etc) and we could only save a certain number of these people. One of the fictional people was a gay man in his 20s who was almost finished his degree to be a qualified doctor. My class almost unanimously decided to kill him, and began chanting “Kill the homo!”. My teacher laughed and let them continue.”
“Almost every day after school I would be approached by the same people handing out flyers saying that I need to repent for my sins. These guys only approached people who looked stereotypically LGBT and would tell me every day that I really need to think about whether going to hell is worth it.” - Anonymous
"I was out at a festival in Melbourne with my girlfriend and friends. It was a beautiful summer night so we decided to walk back to the car."
"Our friends were up ahead and my girlfriend and I were holding hands, talking about how nice the night had been. There was a lady who was wearing a sash saying 'bride-to-be' and as we walked passed I smiled and she screamed out 'fucking homos'."
"I stopped and looked at my girlfriend, turned and looked at the lady who kept screaming at us calling us names and telling us we were disgusting. Her friends apologised and tried to shut her up but the damage was already done." - Demi
"When I was a ski bum living in Jindabyne, everyone was out at the local bar and I was making out with a great chick. It was awesome. Until I looked up and saw a guy with his iPhone out, blatantly filming us."
"I shoved him away and tried to knock his phone away. He responded with, 'Well I guess you're the man then'. I was pretty furious and said 'fuck you' but the chick told me to ignore him and I went back to better things."
"Next thing I know the bouncers are breaking up a scuffle behind me, apparently iPhone Guy had decided to take a swing at me but a mate of mine had intervened."
"It made me feel disgusting. Who tries to punch a girl?" - Emma
"Ex-partner and I were travelling on a tram up Lygon street in Brunswick. I had my arm around his shoulders and we were chatting quietly. A guy two seats behind us loudly said to his girlfriend 'If those fucking faggots do anything else...'."
"Another time I was at work drinks while working in the public service. I was talking to a senior manager and it came up that I was gay. He said 'You're a fag? Awwwww, you're alright though.' My boss told me that he was very drunk and didn't mean it." - Toby, 32
"Have any LGBT [people] not been threatened with violence; yelled at with degrading abuse; made to feel like a piece of shit?"
"I've legged it countless times from groups of homophobic guys trying to beat me. Been yelled at walking down the street, at the shops, driving my car... Tailgated and chased by someone who made a homophobic remark at me and my partner at a service station."
"I've never felt safe to walk anywhere in public with a partner. And to think that these people will be given a platform and $7.5m of taxpayer money to preach their hatred and then get to have a say in something that ultimately won't affect their lives one bit... It's just so frustrating." - Christopher
"Went to a marriage equality rally and got hit with eggs from a car speeding past. Had massive welts on my legs from where they hit. I was lucky they didn't hit my face. I was only 16 years old." - Faelen
"I often get disgusted glances when walking hand-in-hand with my boyfriend in public or if we are enjoying a meal and share a kiss or hold hands."
"Every now and again someone feels it necessary to pass a comment but we usually just block it out. Most of the time I don't even notice the people staring as it is completely natural for me to be holding hands with my partner, as it is when anyone else does it."
"Someone shouted out 'faggot' the other day and I waved back and said 'thanks for noticing'." - Jack.
"I was walking in the supermarket with my partner. We weren't even touching at all, and a man doing his shopping chased us down saying that we needed Jesus in our life, and wouldn't stop when we weren't interested. He did not approach anyone else." - Em
"A few years ago, my partner and I were simply walking into the supermarket and a middle aged woman stepped in front of us with her face pushed into mine at yelled, 'What makes you think it's okay for you to hold hands or be public with the whole thing? I've seen you guys around and I don't like it. I'm not against it, my son is gay. But why do you think you're allowed to do that?'" - Laura
"Just last week a guy driving through South Melbourne in his ute decided to yell 'DIE FUCKING FAGGOTS'." - Cameron
"My partner and I were doing nothing more than sitting in the mall, exhausted, leaning on each other for support (he has multiple sclerosis and sometimes literally needs a shoulder to lean on). Then this man stamps hurriedly up and yells at us "No! Not here!'"
"But the real public harassment comes from online. On public Facebook walls I have been called perverted, disgusting, abnormal, diseased, disordered and likened to pedophiles."
"More disturbingly, I have been told homosexuals should be put to death because the Bible commands it." - Troy
"We were at Dubbo Zoo for our anniversary and a sweaty man got in our faces while we were at the otter enclosure and called us 'dykes'."
"The next time was when we were on George Street, Sydney, near the QVB on a Friday night and a woman came up right behind us and shouted 'faggots', before retreating when I turned around to confront her." - Samara
"Was once told homosexuality was disgusting to my face by a Liberal candidate at a candidate's forum in front of around 50 people." - Terry
"Whether it's a sniggering glance or a taunt like 'faggot' from a passing car, I'm regularly made to feel ashamed of being proud of who I am in public spaces. Last month a dude sitting by himself on a packed train called out 'faggot' to me, completely unprovoked."
"More recently, another man was talking quite loudly to his friend in the city and telling her he would 'punch a guy's teeth in' if he were to kiss another man in front of his children." - Matthew
"When I came out, my mother broke down in tears. She feared that I would never be able to have a family, never be able to get married and never have acceptance."
"A lot of the language she used is the same language we see Lyle Shelton, or Cory Bernardi say when they speak about same-sex marriage. Their language is picked up and used by people, including parents who love their children."
"This debate can never be respectful, because their language is so hurtful and the worst part is they don't even know its hurtful. - Eliot
"Today a man in a car yelled 'poofter' at me while driving past. I probably had it coming. I was minding my own business in a car park getting ready to buy groceries for my family. This person will be voting in the plebiscite. Respectful debate?" - via Twitter.
"Leaning against partner at bus stop and told 'YUCK. That's a nice vagina around your neck poof' (it was a scarf)." - Josh
"There was that time my wife and I were respectfully told we were disgusting as we cuddled waiting at traffic lights, and that time a passing van slowed down in back streets of Thirroul to creep along beside us and give us the finger."
"Or that time on my birthday when a taxi driver stopped and did a U-turn so he could drive up and yell abuse at me and my girlfriend, or walking down the street in Surry Hills in middle of the night holding hands with my wife and a group of men calls us sluts." - Tara
"Recently my boyfriend and I were told to get out of a cab on the freeway at night for resting my head on his shoulder." - Steve
"I was in a Liberal Club meeting and they were discussing the plebiscite. A senior person in the room went 'this club must take a position against same-sex marriage, as gay people are degenerates and against the norm'." - Anonymous
*Some of these stories have been edited for clarity or brevity.
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Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
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