Qantas CEO will campaign for same-sex marriage in Australia despite opposition from MPs

Alan Joyce has faced criticism from ministers who have said he should not use the national carrier’s brand to campaign on the issue

Ben Chapman
Monday 21 August 2017 13:25 BST

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has urged Australians to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in an upcoming vote.

The airline boss vowed to press charges in May after he was hit in the face with a lemon meringue pie by a protester unhappy with his support for same-sex marriage.

Mr Joyce has also faced criticism from Australian politicians who have said he should not use the national carrier’s brand to campaign on the issue.

But on Monday he said Qantas would be “active out there and supporting a Yes vote,“ ABC News reported.

“I believe we have to get behind it and make sure that we have a Yes vote and certainly I will be out there strongly campaigning for a Yes vote.”

“I think it is very important for our employees, customers and our shareholders, and that is why Qantas is a supporter of marriage equality and a supporter of gender equality and a supporter of indigenous rights.”

He added: “We believe the social issues are very important [for] all of your stakeholders and are very important for this country.”

Australians are set to vote via post next month on whether they think gay marriage should be legalised in the country.

If voters back the change, MPs will then hold their own vote, though they are not bound by the public’s decision.

The topic has the source of heated public exchanges in Australia. In March, Mr Joyce was one of 20 high-profile company bosses who, in a letter to Prime MInister Malcolm Turnbull, threw their weight behind a change to the law.

That drew a stinging rebuke from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. The minister singled out Mr Joyce, who is gay, for particular criticism.

“It is unacceptable that people would use companies and the money of publicly listed companies to throw their weight around,” he said.

“If Alan Joyce and any other CEO wants to campaign on this or any other issue in their own time and on their own dime, good luck to them.

“Don't use an iconic brand and the might of a multi-billion-dollar business on issues best left to the judgements of individuals and elected decision-makers.

In May, Tony Overheu, a 67-year-old Christian, approached Mr Joyce from behind during a public address in Australia and smashed a lemon meringue pie into the airline boss’ face before fleeing.

In a statement, Mr Overheu accused Qantas and other companies that support marriage equality of “corporate bullying aimed at social engineering”.

After the attack, Mr Overheu reportedly sent Mr Joyce an email apologising.

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