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Australian Christian Lobby likens gay marriage and Safe Schools to 'unthinkable' Nazi atrocities

Michael Koziol

The Australian Christian Lobby has compared same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program to the Holocaust, dubbing them all "unthinkable things" that happened because societies lacked strong moral guardians.

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Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christan Lobby is questioned over his stance that children from same-sex couples have been a?takena?? from their biological parents. Vision courtesy of ABC.

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Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christan Lobby is questioned over his stance that children from same-sex couples have been a?takena?? from their biological parents. Vision courtesy of ABC.

In a blog post, ACL director Lyle Shelton invoked the rise of Nazi Germany before arguing that Labor leader Bill Shorten's support for Safe Schools reflected "a failure of those of us who know better".

"Changing the definition of marriage to entrench motherless and fatherlessness in public policy and teaching our kids their gender is fluid should be opposed," he wrote.

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Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton attends a National Press Club debate in Canberra in July. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

"The cowardice and weakness of Australia's 'gatekeepers' is causing unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s."

Mr Shelton began the post by declaring he loved to read obituaries in The Economist, specifically one published last week on the late German-born historian Fritz Stern. According to the obituary, Stern argued the rise of Adolf Hitler owed less to the Fuhrer's personality cult and more to the failure of Germany's 'gatekeepers' to oppose him.

The ACL leader then blamed Australia's own 'gatekeepers', or conservative elites, for failing to halt the advance of marriage equality or transgender acceptance.

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"That Labor leader Bill Shorten can promise during an election to fund the so-called 'Safe Schools' program which teaches children as young as four that 'only you can know if you are a boy or a girl - no one can tell you' and there be so little push back is a failure of those of us who know better," Mr Shelton wrote.

"Perhaps we have moved beyond cowardice to complicity. Whatever the case, we have much to learn from the dead."

He went on to say: "Now I know some of my friends in the gay community will be saying 'there Shelton goes again - comparing us to Nazis'. Not so, the issues Australia faces are bigger than the rainbow political agenda."

Safe Schools, a voluntary program intended to assist school-age children in better understanding sexuality and gender issues, has borne the brunt of a sustained campaign by conservative MPs and The Australian newspaper. Critics of the program assert it imposes a radical left-wing ideology on children by teaching gender fluidity.

Earlier this year, the Turnbull government commissioned a review and consequently pared back the program, including restricting it to secondary schools and limiting the use of certain materials.

Whatever the case, we have much to learn from the dead

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Shelton defended his communique and said he was not putting the Safe Schools program on the same level as the Holocaust, in which more than six million Jews, homosexuals and other minorities were murdered.

"Safe Schools is not like that, but it's a terrible ideology nonetheless. Different consequences, but it's a terrible ideology," he said.

"This is not comparing anyone to Nazis. I'm saying that bad things happen when people are fearful of speaking up."

Labor MP Terri Butler, one of the Parliament's leading proponents of marriage equality, said Mr Shelton's message exemplified the "ignorant and divisive comments" that would be commonplace if a re-elected Turnbull government held its planned plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Labor has instead pledged to legislate for marriage equality within 100 days of taking office.

Shirleene Robinson, spokeswoman for Australian Marriage Equality, repeated calls for a civilised and respectful public conversation on the issue.

"Words can inflict terrible harm sometimes and we would ask that people of all opinions remember that," she said. "The use of intemperate language can cause deep hurt among LGBTI people and their families."

Dvir Abramovich, chair of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, said Mr Shelton's remarks were "profoundly offensive" and called on him to apologise.

"No matter how strong one's objections to marriage equality or to the Safe Schools program is, cynically debasing, twisting and abusing the Holocaust in order to advance any agenda and to attack opponents is repugnant," he told Fairfax Media.

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As the editor-in-chief of DatingAdvice.com, I oversee content strategy, social media engagement, and media opportunities. When I'm not writing about cheese or my 19-year love affair with Leonardo DiCaprio, I'm listening to The Beatles, watching Harry Potter reruns (I'm a proud Slytherin!), or drinking IPAs.

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