The Fight For Marriage Equality In Australia

Written by Kendall Claire

It surprises me when people from other countries express surprise about Australia’s lack of equality. There seems to be a general assumption from the rest of the world that, as a westernized country, we must also have equal rights for LGBTQ people – yet we don’t. The sad truth is, we have been fighting for our right to legally marry well beyond the change of law in countries like the U.S. and New Zealand. Somehow, as a nation, we’ve been left behind when it comes to these basic human rights.

Recently, our government decided to fund a nation-wide poll to gauge the level of support for marriage equality in Australia. This postal plebiscite cost taxpayers $122 million dollars and the real kicker…it is entirely unofficial and will not result in a change of marriage laws, even if every citizen votes yes. The government can (and likely will) still refuse to pass a bill for equality, regardless of the plebiscite results.

In the meantime, responses to the voting campaign have been varied. There appears to be as much rampant homophobia as there is support for the LGBTQ community. A week ago I was forced to block a girl on Facebook that I’ve known for a few years, due to her terribly offensive content and general attitude towards LGBTQ people. Amongst that content was a particularly awful “joke” about gay marriage being on par with incest and pedophilia.

This campaign is cultivating a beautiful show of support from many compassionate Australians, but it’s also bringing out the worst in some people. As with most cyber bullying, there appears to be a sense of disconnect online when it comes to recognizing that the people behind the screens are human beings. It has also been pointed out that there has been ugliness on both sides of the debate, and while this is true, I would like to point out that LGBTQ people are having their human rights oppressed, by people who already have those same human rights. We are not seeking to hurt anyone. We are defending ourselves against an onslaught of largely spiteful ignorance.

Some “no” voters maintain that they have the right to refuse marriage equality. Really though, should any person have a say in who another person is allowed to marry? And if so, how is it right that these people have a say in LGBTQ peoples’ marriages when LGBTQ people have no say in theirs? The short answer is: it’s not right. None of this is.

Australia has a long way to go when it comes to basic rights for LGBTQ people. Hopefully, the results of this plebiscite will prove that there’s an abundance of support for marriage equality in this country. In the meantime, if you have Australian friends, or live in Australia, please show some empathy and support. It’s a rough time to be a LGBTQ person in this country. Let’s keep reminding one another of our inherit value as human beings and do what we can to extend a bridge of understanding.

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