For years, we’ve sought marriage equality in Australia. It’s been a hate-filled time especially with the push for a plebiscite. Here’s how you can help make a difference.
The call for marriage equality – for same-sex couples – has been an enduring feature of Australian politics for many years now.
In early times there was much opposition to same-sex marriage. That’s changed big time.
For a number of years now, marriage equality has had majority support within the Australian community – thanks to a myriad of community outreach initiatives, the increased visibility of LGBTI people, their families and their relationships, and the dedicated activism of LGBTI people, their friends and families.
Yet as this support for equality has grown, we’ve seen an ongoing, relentless campaign of hatred against the LGBTI community – in which it’s seemingly okay to say all manner of vile things about us, our relationships, and our families.
Hate campaigns are regularly run whenever and wherever same-sex attracted people (and their allies) challenge traditional marriage laws.
Not surprisingly then, the call for a national non-binding plebiscite on same-sex marriage has been overwhelmingly rejected by LGBTI people.
- A recent national survey of 5500 LGBTIQ people (in Australia) found that more than 85% were opposed to a plebiscite on same-sex marriage;
- Also a broad coalition of Australian #LGBTIQ community groups issued a joint statement against the plebiscite.
As queer people, we know the costs of daily exposure to put-downs, hateful comments and falsehoods, bigoted stereotypes, and violence.
We know what it’s like to be told we’re not normal, that our relationships are #*!! (insert offensive word here), that our histories and cultures count for little.
That’s probably why we’ve stood together as one – over a long period now – opposing the plebiscite.
For some in the mainstream media though – this is an issue that gets clicks – especially if there’s conflict.
So even though there’s been a united front against the plebiscite within LGBTI communities, there’s been talk of division amongst us.
Others, ignoring our history and lived experiences today, tell us we’re making a big mistake rejecting the plebiscite.
Some commentators don’t even feel the need to include our views (or include us as participants) when they’re talking about us, our relationships and our families;
Some prefer to give air-time and space – in the so called interests of ‘objectivity’ (or perhaps conflict) – to the same old hate group and anti-gay commentators.
- In so doing, they ignore the myriad of faith communities, and other community groups that do support marriage equality.
We don’t have to accept this. We shouldn’t accept it when we know the ongoing toll of hatred.
So far I’ve focused on the communities of LGBTI people, their friends and families. Yet hatred and violence affects so many of our communities on a daily basis – and not always in overt, out there ways.
Here’s where the term, ‘microaggression’ has come to fore especially among people of colour – describing the relentless attacks they experience – in the form of slights, snubs, insults and put-downs.
Microaggressive behaviours can target many aspects of a person’s being, lived experiences, or worlds.
- For example, their appearance, the way they carry themselves, the way they use language, the way they dress or style their hair, the way they relate to authorities or resolve conflicts, and cultural practices (this list could go on and on).
And yet microaggressions are often not recognised, acknowledged or challenged within mainstream communities.
Here’s What You Can Do
Support Marriage Equality in Australia.
- Here’s some of the key organisations involved: Australian Marriage Equality, Just Equal, Rainbow Families Victoria, PFlag Perth, Gender Help Parents (Australia).
We’ve gotta be more alert to and mindful of microaggressive behaviours within our communities considering the toll they can take not only on a person’s sense of self, but also on the future they see for themselves, and their community.
- We’ve gotta be prepared to stand up and take action against microaggressions.
Don’t walk past injustice and hatred. Remember those of us (from the affected communities) that are seeing and hearing this latest outbreak of nastiness. Stand with us and walk with us.
- Speak up and challenge the hate, the misrepresentations, the silences, the lack of involvement of affected communities in discussions that affect their lives.
Actively support the voices of diverse communities – in your spaces.
- The world is not just straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied, and Christian. Your events, your curricula and your materials should reflect this.
- If you’re part of a faith-based community, speak up. Show your support for GLBTI people and same-sex marriage, and amplify the voices of others who do so.
Acknowledge the young people sitting in your class being regularly exposed to hatred.
- Visibly show that you support diversity across the board – including sexual and gender diversity;
- Have the contact numbers for diversity-related support services readily available – on public display – in your workplace:
Support young people to take a stand to make school safer for everyone. That includes GLBTI young people.
- GLBTI young people should count in your community. They should be valued. Don’t throw them overboard.
- Listen to my inspiring chat with Roz Ward about Safe School initiatives being lead by young people in Australia.
Step outside the narrow worlds of mainstream media. Support content producers that stand up for marriage equality and other social justice issues.
- Share and talk about the supportive media you find – wherever and whenever you can.
- Afford this media more and more space in the worlds you participate in – so that your friends and colleagues are exposed to it.
- Invite conversations about taking action – in relation to the issues discussed in this media.
Sometimes we’re looking for a glimmer of light and hope – a sense that there’s opportunities and possibilities in our communities and worlds.
Sometimes we just want to know that people value us and care about us.
Your actions for change – no matter how big or small – can literally be life-changing, believe me.
Listen to My Podcast – Pushing The Edge
I host a podcast called Pushing The Edge with Greg Curran, in which I speak to gutsy educators who are pushing the edge for innovation and social justice in education. Listen in ITUNES or your favourite podcast app.