‘No’ banners taken down

Geraldton Guardian

Two roadside banners with the words “It’s OK to say no” were removed in Geraldton within hours of being erected this week, alarming campaigners for the “no” vote on changing Australian marriage law.

Two women, Coalition for Marriage volunteers, attached a banner to a footpath railing in Second Street, Wonthella, near the intersection of North West Coastal Highway, Wonthella, on Monday night.

By 9am on Tuesday, the banner had been removed.

One of the women suggested it was taken down for political reasons.

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“It looks like everybody is allowed to say ‘yes’, but nobody can say ‘no’,” the other woman said.

Signs placed on North West Coastal Highway and local roads are subject to approval by Main Roads and the City of Greater Geraldton respectively, but both agencies said they had not removed the sign.

RELATED COVERAGE: Former gay activist, now campaigning for 'no' campaign, speaks at Geraldton forum

Australians for Marriage Equality WA field director Emma Gibbens declined to comment on the incident, but “yes” supporters strongly objected on social media.

One woman said she believed it was OK to hold a different view, but inappropriate to place a sign in view of a primary school, and called on people to take banners down if they saw them displayed in public.

The school boundary is about 130 metres away from where the sign was erected.

The banner in Second Street, Wonthella, before it was removed this week.
Camera IconThe banner in Second Street, Wonthella, before it was removed this week. Credit: Supplied

Another banner placed on a fence outside St John’s Catholic Church, Rangeway, at the corner of North West Coastal Highway and Utakarra Road, was taken down within hours of its placement on Tuesday afternoon.

The sign had been erected with permission of the Catholic diocese.

One of the women who placed the banner said she was surprised, saying the language in the sign was benign.

“It didn’t say ‘vote no’. It said ‘It’s OK to say no’,” she said.

“As (former gay activist) James Parker says, saying no can relate to anything – alcohol, drugs or domestic violence.”

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Coalition for Marriage WA director Peter Abetz said the removal of the signs did not come as a surprise.

He said signs had been removed from private properties in Perth and even from the back of tradies’ vans.

“Some people are so intolerant they don’t want to allow people on the other side of the debate to express their opinion — it’s an unfortunate reality,” he said.

He said once same-sex marriage was legalised in England, Canada and the US, intolerance levels rose.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is undertaking a postal survey on the question “Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?”

The bureau is asking that survey forms be returned by October 27.

Today is the last day to request a survey form if one has not arrived in the mail.

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