Telstra Retreats From Marriage Equality Ad After Church ‘Suggests’ Possible Boycott

Telstra Retreats From Marriage Equality Ad After Church ‘Suggests’ Possible Boycott

Telstra has silently backed off from a public campaign supporting same-sex marriage after the Catholic Church threatened it with a boycott.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

According to The Australian, the Church was none too happy about its telco company backing marriage equality, and issued a warning to companies supporting any move that defies traditional unions.

Per reports, the Archdiocese of Sydney business manager Michael Digges wrote to corporations whose logos were openly featured on a full-page Australian Marriage Equality ad last year in May, suggesting that should things continue in the same manner, a large bulk of its customers might go walkabout.

“You may be aware that the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corpor­ations, both local and inter­national,” Digges wrote in the letter.

“Undoubtedly, many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners and suppliers. It is therefore with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign.”

Digges asked whether the various companies should be “participating in such an important matter”.

“For corporations to speak on such issues on behalf of shareholders, employees, clients/customers, suppliers and other stakeholders is indeed overstepping their purpose and is to be strongly resisted,” he said.

Telstra’s logo was displayed in two Australian Marriage Equality ads that were spread around the country throughout May and June last year, and which can still be found on the AME website. The telco company has not, however, made any requests to AME to withdraw its logos, but makes no mention of the ad or AME on its own website.

Telstra currently has the contracts for Catholic schools around Australia, and according to The Oz, a spokesperson from Telstra said the company’s decision to retreat from public support was because it “did not want to risk its commercial relationship with the church”.

In a statement issued to B&T, a Telstra spokesperson said, “Telstra has a long tradition of supporting diversity and inclusion. Our position on the issue has not changed.  We place great importance on diversity and standing against all forms of discrimination.

“We also recognise this diversity means our employees, customers and shareholders will have a range of personal views on this topic.

“What has changed is that the Government has indicated it will call a plebiscite on the issue and, ultimately, Parliament will decide the matter.

“Our people and stakeholders can contribute to this process and out of respect, it is important we allow them to voice their own views.

“Given this we have no further plans to be active in the debate.”