Ballarat principal urges no vote in gay marriage poll

BALLARAT Christian College principal Kerry Hutton has urged his school community to oppose marriage equality.

In an email to parents last week, Mr Hutton wrote the "conservative compass points squarely towards the 'no' vote in this issue".

"As a Christian community, many have strong negative views regarding the issue of same sex marriage," he said.

"If you feel strongly about this issue I urge you to take this (Channel 9) survey and respond in the negative."

In his email Mr Hutton acknowledges not all would share his view and that he "does not wish to cause offence".

Ballarat marriage celebrant and marriage equality campaigner Ron Egeberg said this stance automatically shut out any students who felt differently.

I just feel for any student in a school where they are pressured to follow a certain line," Mr Egeberg said.

"(That goes) against something that might be part of their make-up and who they are."

Mr Hutton said he was sure none of the school's prep to year 12 students would be hurt by the email.

"We don't go about persecuting students, they're all treated with love and compassion," he said.

"Nothing that I've said in my memory to parents would do that."

This is not the first time Mr Hutton has campaigned on political issues.

Last month, he railed against a federal anti-bullying campaign in the school newsletter because of its focus on the treatment of gay, lesbian and transgendered young people and had previously fought against a tightening of state anti-discrimination laws.

Mr Hutton said his opposition to the Safe Schools program was about the right of schools to determine their own curriculum.

"I was quoting what I had been told about the program. My concern is that for those who have a contrary view, that we are labelled mentally ill, and or homophobic, and or bigots," he said.

"We just have an opposing view, there's no phobia. I love all of my kids."

Marriage equality returned to the national agenda after an Irish referendum to legalise it succeeded last month. 

Labor leader Bill Shorten has brought a bill to the lower house to change the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage, which could pass if Prime Minister Tony Abbott allows a conscience vote later in the year. 

alex.hamer@fairfaxmedia.com.au