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Coopers brewery gay marriage back-down a 'craven capitulation': MP Andrew Hastie

West Australian MP Andrew Hastie has issued a stinging rebuke to the "progressive left" and the Coopers brewery, after an internet video in which he discussed his opposition to gay marriage with a parliamentary colleague prompted a furious online backlash.

His Victorian colleague, Tim Wilson, said the furore showed how easy it was to offend some people these days.

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IN FULL: Coopers 'incredibly sad' apology

In an awkward video release, Coopers executives apologise for the brewery's involvement with the Bible Society's controversial video debate and pledge support for marriage equality. (Edited with subtitles)

In the video, Mr Hastie outlined why he supports traditional marriage to Mr Wilson, who has spoken of his desire to marry his long-term partner, and is a former Human Rights Commissioner.

The seven-minute video was produced by the Bible Society, which said it was intended as a demonstration of how to conduct respectful conversations about serious issues.

The discussion was held while the men drank bottles of Coopers beer, which had been packaged to celebrate the Bible Society's 200th anniversary.

The release of the video, first reported by Fairfax, led to a torrent of online abuse directed at the two MPs, and an accusation by inner-city Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt that Coopers Brewery was "sponsoring ads against marriage equality".

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Then on Tuesday, after a number of partial retractions and a host of pubs vowed to take Coopers off their taps amid growing outrage, the company issued an apology.

It said it would cancel its limited-edition Bible Society beer and join same-sex marriage lobby group Australian Marriage Equality.

Coopers said it was "incredibly saddened by the impact our involvement with the Bible Society has had on our valued Coopers drinkers".

But Mr Hastie said the back-down was a "craven capitulation" that showed "little spine".

"The whole point of this video was to demonstrate that two MPs can disagree on a very important issue and still be friends and still respect each other," he said.

"The public reaction from the left has demonstrated there is something seriously wrong at the heart of our democracy. I had no idea when I did this with Tim that we would trigger so many people on Twitter.

"They [Coopers Brewery] are apologising for nothing; they've done nothing wrong."

Mr Wilson said the discussion was designed to allow the participants to disagree, without being disagreeable.

"Let's be frank: we jumped at the chance to demonstrate how civil discussion should be had, that's our role as parliamentarians," he said.

"But as somebody who also supports a change in the law, I thought it was a good way to get a conversation directly to people who you may not always be able to engage on this issue."

Both MPs said they were surprised at the anger unleashed over the video.

"It demonstrated that the left demand your surrender if you disagree with them, they shut down dissent and at their heart they are totally illiberal," Mr Hastie said.

"In their minds any dissent must be eliminated and the idea you can have a discussion in which people disagree but respect each other is not part of their world.

"I've had crass and bullying emails from as far away as Tasmania and the reason people are so unsettled by it is that it goes to the heart of our civilisation. Are we truly free, are we truly democratic, do we allow free thought?"

Mr Wilson said: "I think it is a sign that there's a section of society that is very intolerant of a difference of opinion on an issue like this today. I think it only calls to the point of the video, which is to have respectful disagreement. Both side of the argument were presented very respectfully, with a bit of humour. 

"I think this response has been way over the top and shows just how easily people use the idea of being offended today now to boycott companies when they haven't done anything wrong, when their product was simply used a prop as part of showing how you can have a robust discussion. 

"We were given the beers and I was a bit surprised to be quite frank, as it was recorded just after noon and I don't tend to have a drink at lunchtime. If you look, my bottle is very full because I didn't sip any of it." 

The Bible Society released a statement standing by the video and said it was not sponsored by Coopers.

"The interest from the public in this campaign reinforces the message of the video - that it is important for Australians to have respectful conversations about serious issues," the statement said.

Coopers corporate affairs director Melanie Cooper said the brewery was "supportive of diversity and encourages individualism".

"Our company supports marriage equality," Ms Cooper said.

"Offence has been taken by our recent involvement, for which we are deeply sorry. We have listened to a range of community views, we acknowledge this feedback and respect everyone's individual opinions and beliefs."

Mandurah Mail with Fairfax Media

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