LGBTI business organisations across Australia have slammed news that the organisation has bowed to pressure from the Catholic Church over the equal marriage debate.

The Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Business and Enterprise (GLOBE) in Melbourne, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA) and the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network (GLBN) represent LGBTI small and medium business owners and professionals working in some of Australia’s biggest companies.

They say Telstra’s removal of support for equal marriage goes against the equality message that the company has trumpeted to the LGBTI community, and does a disservice to its LGBTI employees and the community members who have supported the telecommunications company.

President of GLOBE, David Micallef says: “The messages to big business should be clear. If you do not support our community, then we do not support you.”

“I have been concerned by the hate filled discussion that this news from Telstra has generated and the negative impact it has already had on LGBTI people in the community. GLOBE will not accept any sponsorship or financial support from Telstra, and have already taken steps to cancel the organisation’s phone account.

“Supporting the LGBTI community is more than marching in Mardi Gras or having a stall at Midsumma and then jumping ship when things get hard – it shows an utter disrespect for the community and what it stands for.

President of the GLBN Brendan Heck says: “I believe this is a backward step from Telstra and it sends a message that it is out-of-touch with greater society values – and the ongoing positive progression to become more inclusive and accepting.”

“I’m also concerned about the message this sends to  its employees and the view of their basic human rights.  Has Telstrathought about the consequences this may have on its staff and how they will now feel about going to work?”

“Is Telstra’s actions are purely based on money and who it perceives as having the biggest contracts with it.  Has Teltsra effectively been bought by the Catholic Church?”

GLBN, GLOBE and the SGLBA all have Telstra employees who are active members of their networks and the organisations are concerned about the impact that this will have on their staff.

President of the SGLBA Mark Haines says: “Telstra says its workplace demonstrates the importance placed on diversity, and for standing against all forms of discrimination.

However, bowing to commercial threats from the Catholic Church and shying away from its once prominent public support for marriage equality, is an affront to such values and community standards. 

It ignores the fact that the majority of the population, indeed the majority of Catholics, including many people in business, supports Marriage Equality.

Telstra needs to get the courage of its convictions. It does its many LGBTI and ally employees a disservice if it won't stand up and be counted in the public arena where it makes all the difference." 

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