While experts have long since concluded that it is theoretically impossible to have your cake and eat it too, it appears our beady-eyed prime minister is still dedicating all his energy to proving those experts wrong. Ostensibly chosen for the leadership as a ‘sensible moderate’ who would add a sense modernity to the Liberal Party and woo swing voters whose primary issue when deciding between Labor and the Libs is how charismatic and personable the leader is, Turnbull quickly found himself shackled to the Coalition‘s needy and incredibly vocal far-right. Forced to adopt a shit-eating grin as he pushed a party line that clearly contravened his personal beliefs, Turnbull’s leadership has largely been categorised by his attempts to take the credit for being a modern, forward-thinking PM while simultaneously enacting policy that in no way reflects that.
Compared to a lot of Australian politicians, Turnbull was a relatively early adopter of support for same-sex marriage – although admittedly this is not a particularly high bar. Speaking at the Australian Christian Lobby national conference in 2008, he said he was not in favour of same-sex marriage but did urge that there should be zero discrimination towards gay couples. By 2012, Turnbull had been on the record multiple times stating that he would vote for same-sex marriage in a free vote. Six years ago might not seem all that great (and it isn’t), but considering that as recently as 2010 the Labor Party was officially against same-sex marriage, it’s comparatively not that bad, especially for someone from a conservative party.
As I’m sure you will remember, though, his nominal support for the queer community doesn’t really line up with his actions. Despite widespread protestation from the queer community; fears that it would promote open homophobia and create a public discourse that was harmful to the mental health of queer people, especially young queer people (both of which turned out to be at least partially founded); and the ridiculous cost involved in surveying the entire population to make a decision that should well have been handled by an ordinary legislative process, Turnbull pushed the government to go ahead with the postal survey.
Not willing to take a stand against his own party or risk losing votes from the party’s far-right supporter base, Turnbull subjected the queer community to a lengthy, humiliating, and dehumanising process as we were vilified by conservative media, right-wing lobbying groups, and members of his own party.
Ultimately, we won, but the damage was done. Many of us faced personal abuse at the hands of ‘no’ supporters, others still had their property vandalised or were even physically attacked. Thanks to the postal survey, the discourse around homophobic discrimination in this country isn’t “Is it acceptable?“, it’s “How much discrimination is OK?”
As soon as the opponents of same-sex marriage realised they had lost, they changed their goal posts to the more achievable task of ensuring that discriminating against gay couples is a legally unimpeachable right. And, more or less, the country didn’t bat an eye, because when you give the entire country the idea that the validity of gay people’s existence is up for debate, they will never see gay people as truly equal.
Despite all this, Turnbull was cracking jokes and taking credit immediately in the wake of the postal survey. Smug prick that he is, he even had the gall to show his face at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, posting a goddamn selfie with the goddamn Empress of Queerness, Cher herself.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) March 3, 2018
Nothing is more emblematic of Turnbull’s particular brand of shittiness than this – knowingly putting queer people through months of hell to save his position as PM only to try act like he is a supporter of and part of the community. He wants the credit without having done any of the work and, summarily, can go fuck himself.
The queer community exists as a distinct entity from Australia at large because queerness has historically existed in an atmosphere of prejudice enforced by both social norms and by institutionalised discrimination, both of which Turnbull’s actions have only served to further entrench. The queer community exists a safe space by necessity because of people like him and the Coalition, it is not his place to celebrate in that space.
Cher, for her part, apologised to fans on Twitter after they pointed out that Turnbull is (pardon my French) a bit of a shitcunt:
Am so sorry. Guess that’s why I have FEW Friends Who Are Politicians.He Seemed Very Open & excited about MARDI
GRAS,AND LGBT COMMUNITY.
— Cher (@cher) March 4, 2018
And I bet he did, but that doesn’t mean shit if his actions don’t reflect that.
Malcolm, I sincerely urge you to stop, reflect, think about what you’ve done, and eat a big bag of turds.