Anti-marriage equality campaigner David van Gend got a rude shock when he returned home from an interstate visit this week.
The Toowoomba doctor found his medical centre vandalised with the word “Bigot” painted in red spray paint on the side of his office, along with his surname in black paint.
An encircled letter A – a common symbol for anarchists – was also left on the building.
Dr van Gend is president of the Australian Marriage Forum which recently attracted controversy when it raised $20,000 to pay for two ads opposing marriage equality during the SBS Mardi Gras.
The station rejected the ads, but they were screened in prime time on Channels 7 and 9 instead.
Toowoomba Police confirmed they were investigating the graffiti attack.
“My point in noting it is not because it worries me particularly, I’m used to this,” Dr van Gend told the Brisbane Times.
“It’s a symbol of the whole intimidation and demonisation of one side, and one side only, of this debate, and it must stop.”
Dr van Gend said he was convinced the message was left by a member of what he calls the “gay marriage juggernaut”.
“Absolutely, it’s the same thing we get 100 times every week online,” he said.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said such abuse of property had no place in the marriage equality debate.
“Proponents of both sides of the debate should respect each others’ difference in opinion,” he said.
“But I also ask Dr van Gend not to jump to conclusions about the perpetrator, as this only inflames the situation.
“We call on people on both sides of the marriage equality debate to show maturity in how they make their case.”
Dr van Gend said he’s happy to debate those in favour of marriage equality as long as it’s done fairly.
“I’m not asking them to change their mind, I’m asking them not to abuse us,” he said.
“People in the middle won’t change their mind if they’re not allowed to hear both sides of the debate and at present they’re not.”
Apart from a stance against same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption and same-sex surrogacy, the Australian Marriage Forum also argues against the idea that homosexuals are “born that way” and disapproves of the “normalisation” of same-sex relationships being introduced into school education.