Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn has attempted to downplay yesterday’s controversy by reinforcing the company’s support for marriage equality.
The Australian reported that Telstra removed all references to its previous support of marriage equality after it received a letter from the Catholic Church pointing out commercial considerations.
“You may be aware that the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations,” said the letter from the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Sydney business manager Michael Digges.
“Undoubtedly, many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners and suppliers. It is therefore with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign.”
Yesterday afternoon, Telstra issued a statement on its public blog, Telstra Exchange, stating its position hadn’t changed, but would no longer be active in the debate.
Penn took to Exchange this morning to publicly declare that Telstra still supports marriage equality, without mentioning anything about alleged influence from the Catholic Church.
“We clearly need to make this simple statement: Telstra supports marriage equality as part of the great importance we place on diversity and standing against all forms of discrimination,” Penn wrote.
“Equally we recognise there are many and varied views and if we are all truly accepting of diversity, there should be room made for all of them.”
He added that the reason Telstra won’t participate in the debate is due to the federal government’s proposed plebiscite, which opens the debate up to the public.
“However, this position was interpreted by some as us abandoning our tradition of supporting diversity and inclusion, be it in the community or in our workplace. This could not be further from the truth.”
Last year, Telstra was part of a group of companies that displayed their logo on Australian Marriage Equality advertisements in support of the campaign. AME still displays Telstra as a supporter.
Other AME supporters include Microsoft, Optus, Vodafone, Atlassian and LinkedIn.