'Recently we’ve experienced a flood of judgement'
An Australian wedding magazine has closed down after failing to respond to calls to feature same-sex weddings.
The founders of White Magazine, Luke and Carla Burrell, said they faced pressures from campaigners to be more inclusive after Australia's parliament voted to legalise gay marriage in December 2017.
After ignoring the requests, advertisers began to sever ties from the title, rendering it “no longer economically viable” and forcing it to shut down, the Burrells wrote in a blog post.
“White Magazine has always been a secular publication, but as its publishers, we are Christian. We have no agenda but to love. We have no desire to create a social, political or legal war, which only divides people further and does more damage than good.”
The founders continued by explaining how they’ve been targeted by online abuse for not featuring same-sex couples.
“Recently we’ve experienced a flood of judgement. We know much of that comes hand-in-hand with running a public magazine.
“But we are also just two humans fumbling our way through these big questions and like anyone else, and we don’t have all the answers.”
The criticisms have led advertisers to withdraw their support from the title, leaving the magazine without the funds it needs to continue running.
Wedding industry workers began to boycott the title earlier this year after former contributor Lara Hotz, who photographed three covers for the magazine, publicly called the founders out for not including same-sex couples.
"It appears they are happy to take money, content and photographs from LGBTQI advertisers and contributors, but are yet to support and represent us in the same way as heterosexual couples are represented in the magazine," she told radio programme Hack, adding that she felt “extremely hurt” by their stance.
Hotz added that she didn’t want to force White Magazine to include LGBT+ couples, but simply wanted to hold the founders accountable for their beliefs.
The magazine's "farewell" statement, which was published on Friday and announced the closure, drew mixed responses on social media, with some people labelling the founders “homophobes” while others argued that the closure was a sign of free speech being censored.
"Unfortunately today if you have faith and don't agree with same-sex marriage, you can't run your own business the way you want,” commented one person.
But the majority of comments took issue with what had been said in the statement itself.
“‘We have no agenda but to love’ - what a load of rubbish. If you just want to love then you’d gladly and publicly recognise love in all of its forms,” wrote one person.
Another added, “It doesn't seem to me that your agenda is just to love, it seems like your agenda is just to love straight people.”