A petition has called for a boycott of Coopers Beer and some Australian pubs have banned the company after their bizarre entry into the marriage equality debate caused outrage.
The South Australian brewery recently teamed up with Bible Society of Australia to create 10,000 cases of commemorative beer to mark the Society’s 200th anniversary.
The Bible Society, to whom Coopers are longtime donors, also released a video titled “Keeping It Light” that inexplicably featured Liberal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie drinking Coopers beer and discussing their differing views on marriage equality.
The Society explained the video was in response to the “national conversation” on the issue which they say has become “fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion.”
Sydney LGBTI advocate and Mardi Gras board member James Brechney created a Change.org petition calling on Australians to boycott the brewer and slamming the beer’s alignment with the anti-marriage equality Bible Society as “shameful,” echoing calls on social media.
The petition also calls on the company to make donations to LGBTI groups, and it had received over 1,300 signatures on Tuesday morning.
And more than half a dozen bars around the country also publicised their plans to remove Coopers beer from their taps in response.
The Union Hotel in Newtown said they would donate the sales of their remaining Coopers beer to Beyond Blue, and only after the company gave “genuine support” to marriage equality would they lift the ban.
“The call to ‘Keep it Light’ is particularly upsetting, considering that it is absolutely NOT a light issue for the thousands who are affected by marriage inequality,” the owners wrote on Facebook.
Newtown Hotel said they had also replaced Coopers with a batch of Boxer Red Ale from Rocks Brewing Company.
“We’re donating $1 from every pint sold in the month of March to GetUp!, who campaign on behalf of the LGBTIAQ+ community and are a strong voice for equal rights and marriage equality in Australia,” the venue wrote.
In a Facebook post, staff of Melbourne gay bar Sircuit can be seen dumping cartons of the beer into a bin, with General Manager Chris writing: “If Coopers wish to discuss, they have my number.”
In response to the controversy, Coopers released two statements to media, the first defending the video as “a light-hearted but balanced debate”.
In the second statement they claimed that they only made the commemorative beer for the Bible Society and didn’t give permission for it to be featured in the video.
“Our family brewery is made up of individuals from a number of different backgrounds, all of whom hold differing views on politics and religion, which we think is reflective of the wider community,” it said.
“We would like all Coopers fans to know that we support and embrace all of our beer drinking community.”