'No' sign divides town on marriage equality

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The High Court ruling on the same-sex marriage postal survey has sparked debate across the country and visibly in the town of Newlyn. 

NEWLYN WILL VOTE NO: The sign against same-sex marriage was put up following the High Courts ruling for the national postal survey.

NEWLYN WILL VOTE NO: The sign against same-sex marriage was put up following the High Courts ruling for the national postal survey.

A sign reading “Newlyn will vote no” was put up in the town after the High Court ruled in favour of the federal government same-sex marriage postal survey on Thursday. A mother in a same-sex relationship said she pulled down the sign for a “no” vote on marriage equality because it was not representative of the community.

Michelle Roberts was driving into town when she first noticed the placard, which was strung up on a sign along a road.

“It was placed in a position that implied it spoke for the entire town,” she said. 

“Many people in Newlyn and driving through would be hurt by that sign. It reminded me of all the years I have felt ‘not good enough’ or hated because of my sexuality. But I am a good person. I have worked in welfare fields helping others for almost 30 years. My children and partner are wonderful caring people.”

Ms Roberts said she was concerned that material in the campaign leading up to the postal survey would be hurtful to many, especially young people. LGBTQI advocates who challenged the postal survey at the High Court shared similar fears.

Advocates for same-sex marriage replaced the “Newlyn will vote no” sign with a rainbow flag in hope of sending a supportive message to the community. Newlyn resident Becky Newton said she decided to fly the rainbow flag as she was concerned about what message the original sign would send to passersby.

“When we first moved here about 10 years ago, I think it was quite conservative, but now there’s more young families, and the ‘no’ sign was not representative of a lot of us,” she said.

“I saw it on my way to work with my young daughter in the car and I was so upset. I talked to her about it, saying that’s not how we feel and it’s not up for others to put up that sign and make that assumption.”

The postal survey to ask residents if they support same-sex marriage was to be sent out on Tuesday.