Australia is currently holding a poll on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The results don't have the power to change the law, but could prompt a non-binding vote in parliament.
It has, predictably, caused some controversy, and the country has been forced to introduce new hate speech during the national debate on equality.
It's with this in mind that we turn to Benedict Brook, a journalist at News.com.au.
Brook recently wrote on the website that he and his partner had received hate mail regarding the marriage equality vote - and they decided to fight back.
The letter he explains:
masqueraded as a campaign letter for the same-sex marriage debate. But in reality it was something else — it was homophobic, and transphobic, hate mail.
And the contents of the anonymous letter?
It said that if my relationship, a relationship I’ve been in for more than a decade, were recognised as marriage then women would be raped in public toilets. I kid you not.
Here is the actual sentence from the leaflet. “The number of victims being raped in public female bathrooms in those countries that has passed the same-sex marriage law is a stunning fact to all.” It’s not a “stunning fact to all”. It’s garbage. It’s a lie meant to smear gay Australians and scare my neighbours into voting no. Voting that is happening right now.
The letter also called homosexuality “the curse of death”.
So Brook and his partner of ten years, Cameron, decided to come out as gay to their whole neighbourhood. It meant, Brook wrote, “confiding in our neighbours, some who we only know through a cheery wave in the street, and trusting they would treat us with the respect the leaflet’s creators had failed to do”.
They copied the style of the hate mail and wrote:
Our names are Ben and Cam — we are your neighbours. We enjoy eating out in the neighbourhood, you may seeing us hopping on and off the bus and we like to try the free cheese samples at the IGA.
We are also gay. We didn’t feel the need to make a big deal about that but the contents of that leaflet were so hurtful, so shocking — and so false — we felt we needed to reply.
Pleasingly, one neighbour replied: