Australia’s Anti-Same Sex Marriage Ads Ranked by Queerness

It’s September 2017 and Australia still doesn’t allow same-sex marriage. Rather than ask politicians to do their damn jobs, self-serving gutless wonder prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has spent $122 million on a postal survey to gauge whether Australians reckon that LGBTQ people are real humans with valid, loving relationships, who deserve the same liberties as everyone else.

The survey asks if the law should change to allow same-sex couples to marry. The “Yes” outcome (predicted) will allow politicians to vote on and pass same-sex marriage legislation. A “No” outcome will result in marriage equality being taken off the table until the next election.

This whole thing is indefensible. It’s a government-approved platform for conservative and religious groups to spew hateful homophobic and transphobic bullshit, which is dangerous and hurtful to queer folks and their families, many who already live their lives in Australia feeling alienated and less than. It’s truly abhorrent.

I’ve personally found comfort in the fact that during this humongous shitshow, the homophobes are staying true to form and making no sense whatsoever, such as creating campaign ads ranging from the absurd to delightfully, confusingly queer. Here they are, ranked.

4. This ad about gay seat belts

Ad with rainbow seat belts

Ah yes, the ol’… seat belt argument against marriage equality. What’s next, are they gonna let square pegs marry round holes!?!?

How queer is it?

Not queer, just dumb as hell. Is this about sex? Is this how straights think we have sex? We’re all just rainbow buckles and buckle ends, fruitlessly clacking against each other in sin.

3. Flashes of light

Conservative newspaper ad

Just, wow.

How queer is it?

Reading this ad actually made me one bazillion times queerer, how about you.

2. Hm yes very heterosexual

Blue, purple and pink logo

The Coalition for Marriage wants you to know that it’s OK to stand up for what you believe in! Don’t let the PC Police bully you into being a decent and compassionate human being.

How queer is it?

It’s literally the bisexual flag. Hard to say whether the designer is oblivious or we’ve found Australia’s greatest smartarse.

1. Gay Trojan Horse

Rainbow colored trojan horse

Marriage equality is obviously just a ruse that will open the gates for other awful, terrible things, like… safe schools.

How queer is it?

This is horse is fabulous, I’d definitely get in. I want to see Gay Trojan Horse marching at next year’s Mardi Gras, and turned into an enamel pin for my denim jacket. Also this analogy places us on the winning side, so.

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. I like the last one because the horse is very snazzy and I also initially misread “the Greens” as “the Greeks”, which would have had more factual basis than anything else in these ads.

    Also: has anyone ever seen a “REAL seat belt” with one blue part and one pink part?

  2. This whole plebiscite turned postal survey debacle makes me so furious, but the thing that truly has me fuming is how dear old Malc is suddenly campaigning on the yes side. That he has the gall to support marriage equality after two years of near silence on the topic is infuriating. And when he wasn’t silent he was employing delay tactics or saying much of nothing, buttering up the conservatives who he wouldn’t have got the Prime Ministership without.

  3. I can see that the bigots haven’t gotten better at this, I was expecting an Australian version of that “Gathering Storm” NOM ad… Oh well…

    • Oh it’s coming! This is just the first week of a month long campaign. They’re not even warmed up yet.

      We’ve also got a nice TV ad where they tell the public that their child’s school has told their son that he can wear a dress to school next year.

      No doubt there’s more coming down the line.

  4. Such a bizarre thing, the straight psyche. This makes me feel uncomfortable about the idea of sitting in a car with them while they’re doing up their seat belts.

    Also if I came across that Coalition for Marriage ad, at first glance I would definitely read it as a LGBTQ-inclusive public service message about consent.

  5. I love the age-old argument that same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal because it can’t produce children as if there aren’t any opposite-sex couples that can’t produce children.

  6. “Safe schools”, by the way, is referencing a program being run in many Australian schools that aims to make schools safer for LGBTIQ students. Controversially, the program for some reason feels it necessary to mention lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and/or queer people to students as part of this program, and of course knowledge of such things will turn the younger generation gay or trans (these are the only two they seem worried about).

    • Thank you for providing background! The safe schools issue makes me rage. It’s so stupidly hypocritical to center the wellbeing of children in your argument against marriage equality when you’re actively trying to bring down a program that exists to protect children. Putting safe schools on that poster just makes them look mean and dumb.

    • Okay that makes more sense now. Thank you. For a second I thought they were mad their son can’t be the class bully anymore.

  7. I saw the seat belt ad a few weeks ago but I only just now got it! When I first saw it I was so confused because aren’t they all seat belts? Thank you for the explanation!

    (This is not sarcasm, I really didn’t understand how a seat belt wasn’t a seat belt.)

      • Oh I saw it in context but somehow it didn’t compute that the seat belts were same-ended? I just saw seat belts and was like “Is it not a seat belt because it’s made from rainbow fabric?” It honestly went right over my head, which is embarrassing to admit, but also a testament to how terrible the advertisement is.

  8. i am sorry to say that i found this triggering :( so much effort put into promoting hate in this world is hard for me to stomach even when it is ridiculous. i am just so damn sad

    • I’ve been moving between wanting to thump something and wanting to throw up about this …..”debate” the government of Australia insists that we’re having on my social inclusion for something like the last 3 1/2 years since these “worthy representatives of our nation” have been in government. To say that I feel sick and angry this week doesn’t cut it. (Sorry everyone, self indulgent rant over).

  9. ‘…a flash of light occurs and a baby is conceived’. Had I been straight, this would have definitely scared me into homosexuality.

    Also, who is the target audience? Can six-year-olds vote in Australia?

  10. OMG the gay trojan horse as an enamel pin ::heart flutters::


    right so marriage isn’t a social institution that we made up, it’s just a thing that’s existed since the beginning of the human race.

  11. I was sixteen when I had my a-ha moment about which seat belt I most desired, when I saw Chloe Sevigny in If These Walls Could Talk 2. When I saw her butch seat belt buckle, I knew nothing would be the same, and I have tried, frustratingly, to make two like seat belt parts fit together ever since.

  12. I’m still mad about the seatbelt one, because I turned one of my never-used twitter accounts into Seatbelt to make a dumb joke about it and now Twitter keeps e-mailing me: “Seatbelt, get back into twitter! Seatbelt, see which of your friends are here!” TWITTER STOP TRYING TO MAKE SEATBELT HAPPEN

  13. “fruitlessly clacking against each other in sin” accurately describes all my attempts to scissor.

    (I hope ‘clacking’ can exist in the Aussie dialect… “You game for a clack?”)

  14. So #3 reminds me of the book my mom gave me about sex when I was 11. And by giving it to me, I mean leave it on my bed and never mentioned it. It was called “Almost Twelve”. Oddly, I still have it. Anyway, it was all about Christian’s having sex for procreation. Unmarried people would probably die from childbirth and definitely doom their children to an unhappy life. Lot of stuff about hell. Instead of making me dream about a joyous Christian life I think it made me gayer.

    • Holy crap! My Mum gave me the same book when I was eleven. I didn’t read it though, and now I’m really glad I didn’t.

  15. I like number 3 because I enjoy the idea that a.) childless couples or couples who adopt aren’t really married? Like that would be changing the law in a whole different way… and, more delightfully, b.) when a sperm and an egg meet, small fireworks go off in the fallopian tube??? How festive!

  16. Are you sure some of these aren’t really examples of black propaganda? You know, when you side makes propaganda that’s meant to look like it’s for the other side even though it really isn’t, just to make their look bad or embarrassing. Because if that were the case I’d believe it!

    Also does anyone recall that seen in Jurassic Park where Dr. Grant can’t figure out to make his seat belt work until he ties the two alike ends together! Which I hindsight was probably foreshadowing of the plot twist that a population of all female dinosaurs CAN still reproduce!

    Life finds a way.

  17. “We’re all just rainbow buckles and buckle ends, fruitlessly clacking against each other in sin.”

    Seriously the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.

  18. You forgot the terrible “stop the fags” poster! Also the ridic video ad that features mothers saying silly things like, “if marriage equality happens, school will let my son wear a dress!” Most of the campaigning that I’ve seen has focused on scare mongering around gender rather than marriage equality. I especially feel for my trans family because they are taking the brunt of this fucked up campaign.

    This is all completely awful and everyone I know is on edge and likely will be till the result in November. The older queers I know are even predicting a “no” outcome in the end. What horrible nonsense.

    However! 30,000+ people marched in Sydney on the weekend. Friends have been buying flowers for all of the queers they know. Others are calling everyone they know. My housemate’s parents made a huge sign saying “WE ARE VOTING YES” and hung it on their house. Everyone has dug into the back of their wardrobes and found their rainbows and hung them out. My city is flying flags. I cry everytime I see one.

    So tl;dr – everything is shit but our queer family are so so amazing and I feel scared but v loved.

  19. And under the heading of “are straight people OK?” I am amazed by these ads’ low opinion of marriage. Fit Tab A into Slot B and that’s it?! Nothing about love, commitment, caring, etc? Maybe that’s what they really feel threatened about, revealing how miserable they are.

    • They feel threatened because our happy loving committed relationships that ignore traditional gender roles do fundamentally threaten and undermine the gender roles they believe are essential for the stability of society. We make them queerer by being living examples that the gendered divides in their marriages are fundamentally bullshit. And that is why these angry straight people are not okay, because our continued success and existence calls bullshit on the systems they bought into and likely sacrificed parts of themselves to fit into.

  20. The seatbelt one reminds me of this swedish politician from the 90’s who actually made hand gestures to explain why homosexuality is wrong. Like putting his fists or his index fingers together. Really says something about how these people view sex, “insert A into B=normal”.

  21. You’ve got two more votes from me and my fiance for a Rainbow Horse pin, I think it should be the next merch item.

  22. I’m glad we’re able to find some humour in this because I thought I was resilient and then this whole debacle started and apparently I am not. I work for the government agency running this farce so that doesn’t help.

    Having my child, our children compared to the stolen generation (an institution of forcibly removing Indigenous kids from their families) makes me so mad and is frankly insulting to the Indigenous community.

    Anyway, only 6 more weeks. So much fun.

    • this is affecting all my queer aussie friends the same way, even the truly cynical ones that think marriage is trash. when this is over, australia can finally get the fuck over it and you won’t have to worry about it again. it’s really nice even just a few years on, it makes such a difference to the social climate. after canada passed it so much non-marriage-related homophobia dissipated from public discourse because it was just normal and there was nothing the dickheads could do to fight it. it was a shock to move to australia where every person i mentioned my partner to made sure to interrupt with a statement that they supported marriage equality (we weren’t talking about marriage, susan). y’all can have some normal conversations with the straights in a few years! you will get there!

      in the meantime, you’re doing great! i believe in you!

    • Hang on – they’re comparing them to that? That’s absolutely horrible.

      I’m sorry you, and everyone else in the same situation, or whose just queer/has a queer family, has to go through this. It’s such bullshit. I can imagine being resilient isn’t enough to keep you from feeling awful right now.

    • I also don’t like that we, as APS workers, aren’t allowed to express our displeasure for our politicians in relation to this expensive survey on social media thanks to the partisan muppet in charge of the APSC and his latest social media guidelines.

      I also considered myself fairly resilient but now I am fading.

      Good luck to you and your colleagues at the ABS and the few months ahead.

  23. Crystal- Nice to see this article.

    These are hilarious if they weren’t so serious in spreading their hatred & fear.

    4. It is luck if something works in the country I live in! So, we never rely on seat-belts.

    3. ….a flash of light occurs and a baby is conceived. Wow, so, it is a mere flash of light without thunder and earth shattering??
    Seriously, these morons are aware that marriage between a man and a woman was (and still is) considered as a bartering system right? That, it was a damn trade…mostly an unfair trade? There wasn’t a concept of marriage at all in our country in the old times!

    2. That seemed like an ad for bisexuals.

    1. That rainbow horse is beautiful.

    I agree with you…all of these look like the creative person/team is thumbing their nose at the conservatives.

  24. Look, everything is ridiculous and mega draining and as a queer Christian the misguidedness and intellectual laziness of the NO campaign makes me want to poke my eyes out with a stick

    but what is helping a lot is campaigning for the YES campaign! Making phonecalls is mega effective and so important to make sure that the majority of YES votes get lodged. Plus people on the phone are super nice and supportive- much better than Your Standard Internet Comment Thread No Voter or the people who made these ads!

    I leave everyone able on this thread with this important encouragement:

    Together, we can win this!

    • My code didn’t post properly, gah. here is the image.

      All love to everyone weathering this tiring and upsetting shitstorm of a time. Let’s keep looking after each other. Equality is inevitable. Haters gonna hate but love is going to win. And that’s the damn truth.

      <3 <3 <3 <3

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