The upcoming postal survey on same sex marriage cleared its High Court hurdle last week, just as Springwood’s town square became a microcosm for the debate.
Four police were called to intervene after Springwood retiree, Cameron Phillips, who has been campaigning for more than a week for a ‘no’ vote on the issue, found himself in a heated exchange with several ‘yes’ supporters on September 8.
Mr Phillips took up his case in the square earlier this month because he was disappointed by the ABC’s coverage. He was "helping provide information" by handing out more than 50 pamphlets with religious messages encouraging residents to “vote no but with respect”. He said he had been "spat on" while in the square.
Blue Mountains crime manager Dietmar Almer said police “spoke to Cameron Phillips and asked him if he would freely move on from that area which he did. He was not issued with a move on from the police.
“Cameron Phillips has advised us that he does not want any further police action regarding the incident on the 8/9.”
Mr Phillips’ position in the square has drawn almost 400 comments on the Gazette’s Facebook page and a “Love Tree” sprang up in the square over the weekend with love hearts and messages in support of gay marriage. It also now has ‘no’ messages.
Michele Kearns wrote on the Facebook page: “That's his opinion, fine, he's entitled to one but why is it necessary to try to convince others to agree with him. We don't need to see his bigoted ideas as we walk past.”
But Sam Wilson said: “Freedom of speech goes both ways. The ‘yes’ campaign is forced upon us everywhere you go.”
Detective Chief Inspector Almer said he wanted it known that “freedom of speech is a fundamental common law right provided it does not infringe the laws of the state”.
He asked the community “to respect freedom of speech and be respectful of diverse opinion.”