A feminist group calling itself the Australian Cat Ladies has managed to buy up the australianchristianlobby.org domain name, but in the ensuing media frenzy, all have missed that the Australian Christian Lobby owns a domain name that is downright misleading.
The Australian Christian Lobby group is arguably the most influential religious-based lobbying group in Australia. The organisation claims to represent Christian values, but does not disclose member numbers, and indeed, many Christians disavow the actions of the group, particularly after the organisation's leader, Jim Wallace, has said that being gay was more hazardous to a person's health than smoking. The group claims it is bipartisan, but frequently criticises the Greens, and has recently shifted support towards the Coalition after Labor changed its party platform to endorse same-sex marriage.
The group has recently been lobbying the Coalition to reaffirm that it will not change its party platform to allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, which could potentially lead to a change of the law that would follow in the footsteps of New Zealand and the United Kingdom in allowing same-sex marriages.
Given the organisation's divisive influence on politics, it is unsurprising that people would find a way to go and buy up a domain name related to the organisation for their own purposes. While the Australian Christian Lobby has the .org.au address, which redirects to acl.org.au, the organisation neglected to purchase the .org address, meaning it is now host to the Australian Cat Ladies.
Buying up related domain names is not all that unique or new. Most large companies buy up almost every conceivable domain name that could be related to their brand as defensive purchases just to prevent this sort of thing happening. One of the complaints from the Australian government around the move to generic top-level domain names was that for domains such as .suck and .fail, companies would need to buy out all their own domains to ensure that commonwealthbank.fail or telstra.suck isn't snapped up by angry customers.
One domain I would like to have seen taken away from the Australian Christian Lobby is the AustraliaVotes.org.au address. Apart from an ACL logo in the top corner, it is not immediately obvious that the site is seeking to push the lobby group's values rather than being a hub for information about the election. The content hasn't been updated since 2010, but as we near the 2013 election in September, I wouldn't be surprised if the lobby group sought to use this to push its agenda again. Especially if there ends up being a referendum on same-sex marriage.
That domain is much more misleading than a site about cat ladies.