Telstra faces backlash after alleged marriage equality backflip

Telstra social media pages have been bombarded with backlash following an alleged backflip on its marriage equality support. A report published by The Australian alleges that Telstra bowed to the Catholic Church following a letter that implied the organisation would cut all of its Telstra contracts if it did not cease to publicly support marriage equality. The Catholic Church sent a similar letter to all its suppliers appearing on the Australian Marriage Equality website.

The Australian says that the Telstra did not wish to risk its commercial ties with the church. Telstra is said to currently holds contracts for all Australian Catholic schools.

Telstra was one of 663 Australian businesses who gave their names to a series of ads run by Australian Marriage Equality last year (alongside Optus, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, Amaysim and iiNet), and was a supporting partner of the 2015 Sydney Mardi Gras.

Telstra responded to The Australian's piece on Twitter.

"The Australian people and Parliament will determine any changes to the institution of marriage. We have no plans to drive further public debate. We place great importance on diversity and stand against discrimination in all forms. Our position on marriage equality hasn't changed."

The telco's stance has, however, not been received kindly, with customers and non-customers describing the move as "pathetic" and "disgusting". A number of subscribers have left comments on Telstra's social media pages, threating to change to provider in protest. At time of writing, Telstra's social media team has not been replying to these complaints.

Telstra subscribers still on a contract will however likely have to pay an early termination fee if they wish to change provider. The maximum early termination fee for a customer on a 24-month contract is AUD$600, plus any remaining handset repayment fees. 

For Telstra, today’s backlash will almost certainly contribute to already shaken consumer confidence as a result of three widespread outages this year.

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