I love watching Paul Murray Live, but to be honest, I’m sick of the whole line ‘if the plebiscite wasn’t voted down by Labor and the Greens, we’d have same – sex marriage/ marriage equality (depending which term they use) in Australia by now”. Even Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson jumped on that bandwagon last night. Host Paul Murray then parrots statistics by “The Essential Poll”, which suggests that 61% say that there should be a national vote and 60% want same – sex marriage to be legal. OK, The Guardian Isn’t a ‘right – wing’ publication, true, but can anyone tell me how many people were polled?
I am not a complete opponent of plebiscite and in an earlier post, I did say that Labor was guilty of treating the LGBTQ+ community like a political football. But here’s the thing, if a plebiscite was such a good — and harmless — option for the LGBTQ+ community, why was it sold so poorly? Why did a poll by PFLAG (however small), show a fall in support for a plebiscite when people were told (correctly), that it was legally non – binding? Why didn’t the Coalition ensure that the result would be respected?
People, like former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Peta Credlin kept saying that the government would respect the result, but why didn’t an MP say that? It’s easy for her and on Paul Murray Live and the like. How many of them have felt fear holding their partner’s/ spouse’s hand in public? I’m not sure many, if any have — at least not recently. How many times have they had their sexual orientation linked to paedophilia and bestiality? (you see that all the time on social media) and the whole “they’re luring young girls to parties and things” comments. Not to mention a lack of reporting and commentary after an LGBTQ+ radio station in Melbourne was faced with a bomb threat last year. To be fair, Dee Madigan commented on it on Paul Murray Live and, Paul Murray did say that he was going to condemn it. But no comment from others — including those who constantly accuse the same – sex marriage supporters for mob attacks on same – sex marriage opponents (which, unfortunately do happen). I guess I should be fair and say that this year, commentators have picked up their game and condemned homophobia. There have been a few incidents that have been condemned and let’s hope it keeps on happening (the calling out, I mean).
Going back to the first point, I believe that LGBTQ+ need to be included in the debate, preferably without being screamed down. Seriously, why shouldn’t gay/ bi people like Molly Meldrum have a say about issues like gay marriage and the Margaret Court controversy if straight people are demanding the same? That’s what a ‘debate’ is — people expressing opposing views. Yet, we hear echo chambers of people mostly saying that the plebiscite should have happened. They can have that view, sure, but what about have a member of PFLAG or an LGBTQ+ add to the discussion and maybe expressing some worries that they have? Why not have a counsellor/ social worker, etc who works with LGBTQ+ people? (I’ve seen the ABC do that once). I’m not saying that people like Paul Murray, Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi or anyone else shouldn’t have a say. They can. But I think there is another side. There is concern on how it may have turned out, and I think they need to be heard as well. Because ultimately, LGBTQ+ people will be the ones affected by the result and, possibly, the process.
For Australians, do you think the same – sex marriage has been hijacked? Leave your thoughts below.