As a member of the LGBTQI community in Oz, the last few days have been bloody tough ones. But then, so have the last few months, and years. The most commonly used example I’ve seen is that it feels as though we’re trapped in a ‘Groundhog Day‘ situation. It’s ‘Groundhog Day 2‘, and this time if the groundhog sees its shadow it means there will be months more deliberations about the worthiness of our love and relationships.
This debate about our lives has already been had, countless times. For decades our community has fought a shitload of battles in order to move an unwilling society forward. There is no doubt that Australia has progressed, and not just in symbolic ways. We have seen the decriminalisation of homosexuality, laws changed to recognise couples, and to help protect our chosen families. But every day that marriage equality is denied, therefore meaning another day that marriage equality is debated, is yet another day where we’re forced to account for ourselves, to prove ourselves, to have to explain why the debate should end. We have to continually explain that we just want to be treated like every other person in the joint.
This week saw a bunch of mostly straight white men go into a room to discuss what TF they should do about same-sex marriage. The people whose lives their decisions actually impact were left on the outside, while our relationships were used for political gain. When it became clear that once again the Turnbull government was back on its bullshit, and was going to ignore the pleas from our community, ignore what is clearly the right thing to do, and indeed ignore the majority of what the entire fricken country wants, there was an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that crushed many of us.
Barring a successful High Court challenge being brought against the government by activists, there will now likely be a postal vote plebiscite to decide if the country thinks our relationships are as valid as the people that win ‘The Bachelor‘. There are a long list of reasons why this vote is a dumb-as-fuck idea. It’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, it’s non-binding, and it probably won’t actually be representative of the majority view. But amongst all the debate about its validity as a concept, what it actually means for the people whose lives will be voted on can get a tad lost.
What it means is this. The government is literally going to send a ballot form to everyone in Australia, where they will have the chance to complete a survey about the humanity of their fellow LGBTQI Australians. The Australian public, the same people who vote in elections, and who choose the winner of ‘The X Factor‘, will be asked to judge if they think our love is equal to theirs, by ticking a box on a piece of mail that comes to their house. Talk about junk mail! But seriously, the idea that the majority of people in this country are being asked to decide on the rights of a minority, and particularly on their relationships, is sickening. We’re human, we’re equals, and we shouldn’t be forced to beg just to cop equal rights.
Anti-equality groups and organisations like the Australian Christian Lobby will be sitting back in their chairs, stroking white cats and laughing maniacally at the opportunity this postal vote gives them. They will do everything they can to inflame their base and get people motivated to return a ‘No’ vote. And unfortunately, nothing motivates like hatred, and the easiest way to spark hatred, in this case, is by needling at people’s homophobic tendencies, and at their fear that spooky scary gay people might steal their souls, or eat their heads off or something.
My people, we are already very familiar with this kind of thing. We have seen politicians like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen link homosexuality and Safe Schools to bestiality and pedophilia in the past, saying these things loudly and proudly, setting an example for the rest of Australia. And my people are now the ones who will, in the next few months, wake up each day dreading what terrible things will be said about us under the shitty justification of this unnecessary ‘debate’. We’ll be the ones walking with our kids to the train station only to be harassed by dickhead anti-equality activists, who will claim to be doing it because they care about kids. Our vulnerable and young, who are already far more likely to suffer anxiety and depression, are the ones who, experts agree, will be damaged by these next months of debate. It’s fucked, plain and simple.
In good news, there is something that you can do to actually help (besides buying your queer mates a beer, which I also recommend). There is a clear generational divide in this debate. Young people are generally all for it, and in fact can’t understand why it isn’t fucking done already. Young people rule, but unfortunately we can’t risk waiting for the oldies to die out to get this shit done. Unfortunately, the postal vote will benefit the group of people who use the mail already, who are inclined to live where they are enrolled, and who will be fired up enough to return their ballot. This means boomers. This means people on the ‘No’ side who are already most active in these debates, driven by fear of things changing. And they are all underestimating you. Politicians who don’t want this change, groups who don’t believe queer people are equal, they are completely underestimating young people, and your desire to make sure the right thing happens. So let’s prove these idiots wrong. If there is a postal vote, it’s time for you to be motivated on behalf of your LGBTQI m8s. You can have an actual positive impact on their lives, how fucken sick is that?
If the postal vote goes ahead, the AEC is going to send out voting forms to people on the electoral roll, and they will only send yours to where they think you live, not where you have moved for the second time this month. It’s very easy to make sure you get the right form sent to the right place. Go here and enrol, and if you are already enrolled, go there and double check your bloody details. Then when the form comes, check the right box, and return the form as if it’s that pair of jeans from ASOS that were too small. We can get this done. With your help.
Image: Getty Images / Lisa Maree Williams