(EDGE) The appearance of an anti-LGBT poster campaign in Melbourne that used questionable statistics to denigrate gay families has many in Australia up in arms as the country is poised to have a postal vote on the national legalization of same-sex marriage.
The campaign seen by Twitter user Dan Leach-McGill uses disturbing language and images, and has many ciivil rights groups concerned that in the coming weeks, things may get uglier.
The poster at the center of the controversy features a two menacing figures brandishing rainbow belts as if to punish a child that cowers below them. Above the child bold letters read: "Stop The Fags."
Equally disturbing are the claims the poster makes: "92% of children raised by Gay Parents are abused... 51% have depression... 72% are obese"."
The Daily Mail reported that the aforementioned statistics came from a discredited 2016 study by Reverand Paul Sullings from the Catholic University of America. The Guardian noted that despite the poster's message the vast majority of studies show children with LGBT parents ar eno worse off than those with heterosexual parents.
Government opposition leader Bill Shorten took to Facebook to comment on the posters.
"Overnight, it appears some disgusting posters have emerged against marriage equality. I absolutely condemn them and encourage Malcolm Turnbull to do the same.
"Labor opposed this postal survey because we feared exactly this kind of hurtful filth would emerge. This kind of garbage isn't 'debate', it's abuse. I'm so sorry that LGBTI Australians have to put up with it.
"Let's make sure there's an overwhelming 'Yes' vote in response."
According to Hit.com, long-time Australian LGBT rights advocate Rodney Croome shared Shorten's sentiment on putting the marriage issue up for popular vote.
"We have long warned the Government that a plebiscite or postal vote on marriage equality would amplify extremist and hateful views - yet the Prime Minister assured us of a respectful debate," Croome said.
"It is now incumbent on the Prime Minister, who initiated the postal vote campaign, to take responsibility and denounce anti-LGBTI vilification like this poster."
According to Bloomberg, a poll taken in 2016 showed 64 percent of respondents back same-sex marriage.