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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has slammed a new TV advertisement by opponents of same-sex marriage as “total rubbish” licensed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Coalition for Marriage’s debut TV ad, which Fairfax Media understands is due to air on commercial networks from Tuesday night, links marriage equality to sex education at schools.

It claims that in countries which have legalised same-sex marriage, “parents have lost their rights to choose”, and features an unidentified woman who says her son was told “he could wear a dress” to school.

A screenshot from the Coalition for Marriage’s new television advertisement. Photo: YouTube / Coalition for Marriage

The ad, which has been uploaded to YouTube and was authorised by Sophie York of the Marriage Alliance, does not directly address the question of whether same-sex couples should be able to marry.

But it features another unidentified woman who claims: “When same-sex marriage passes as law overseas, this type of [school] program becomes widespread and compulsory.”

Mr Shorten, who opposed the postal survey and its plebiscite predecessor, told Fairfax Media the ad was “offensive and hurtful to LGBTI ns and their families”.

“This is exactly what was predicted when Malcolm Turnbull decided to waste $122 million on a postal survey. He gave the green light to this rubbish,” Mr Shorten said.

“This is not freedom of speech. This is freedom to hurt. I just want to tell LGBTI families that they are not on their own. Most people know this is total rubbish.”

The Labor leader nonetheless encouraged ns to participate in the postal survey and promised to “campaign hard” for a “yes” vote.

The ad also drew criticism from the executive director of the Equality Campaign, Tiernan Brady, who labelled it “disgraceful and dishonest”.

“The people behind this ad know that the n people are for allowing all ns the right to marry, so they have resorted to misleading people, to pretend this is about something else,” he told Fairfax Media.

“Sadly, over the next few weeks, the n people will get used to this daily dose of red-herrings and lies, served up by a bucketful of cash. As the no side seek to divide ns, we will continue to seek to unite them.”

In a statement, Ms York said parents across “are speaking to each other about the impacts of radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education programs”.

She said parents had “a right to know how a change in the marriage law will affect what their kids are taught at school” because “the education departments won’t tell them”.

On the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night, Attorney-General George Brandis – a supporter of same-sex marriage – said any bill introduced under the Coalition would contain “very strong protections” for religious freedom.

But he warned against obfuscation of the issue by opponents of same-sex marriage.

“Let us remember what this plebiscite is about. It is about one question and one question only: should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry,” Senator Brandis said.

“That’s it, that is the only question the n people are being asked to decide.”

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