A marriage equality campaigner is considering legal action against leading “no” campaign vehicle Coalition For Marriage, alleging the group defamed her on their website.
Canberra woman Jill Moran claims the use of her photo to illustrate a press release titled “Tonight a test for the extremists of the ‘yes’ campaign” falsely portrays her as a bully, violent protester and political extremist.
Moran said she tried to contact the Coalition for Marriage directly to have the photo taken down but didn’t get a response.
Law firm Slater and Gordon sent the group a cease and desist letter and is now threatening a defamation suit, representing Moran pro bono.
Moran’s lawyer, Phil Johnston, told the ABC: “The allegations of violent protesting, of bullying and intimidation with regards to Jill are just patently false.
“She has no history of violence, she has no criminal record, she’s just a public servant in Canberra.
“It’s damaged her personal reputation — when she called me she was mortified.”
The Coalition for Marriage denied the claims and told the ABC they were fighting for “freedom of speech,” including “freedom of political communication.”
“An image of Yes activists deliberately and brazenly disrupting a peaceful anti-Safe Schools event in Canberra was shared with our media release,” a spokesperson said.
“There appear many activists in the image and none of them were known to or named by the Coalition for Marriage.”
The Coalition For Marriage said Moran posted the photo to Facebook with the caption “smashing the heteropatriarchy”.
Moran explained the photo was taken at a peaceful counter-protest against an anti–Safe Schools rally in Canberra in August and her behaviour had been misrepresented.
“I felt sick to my stomach when I saw my photo on the Coalition for Marriage website, after a friend noticed the page and brought it to my attention,” she said.
“I am embarrassed and angry to be associated with anything other than peaceful campaigning.”
Johnston said he and Moran would be satisfied with a retraction and published apology within 28 days.