Yesterday we celebrated a victory for the LGBT+ community and our allies, for love, and for Australia. After three months of “respectful” debating, the results of the marriage equality postal vote are finally back, and Australia has come out with a majority ‘yes’ vote.
Love has won, even if it’s only by 11.6 per cent.
The ABS’s official report revealed that 61.6 per cent of voters, representing just over half of the overall population, believe that everyone deserves their civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation. A staggering 38.4 per cent, therefore, do not believe this, and that’s a problem.
While a majority ‘yes’ vote is undeniably worth celebrating, the moment is somewhat bittersweet — surely more than three fifths of the country value LGBT+ citizens and our rights?
The “respectful debate” promised to us by Malcolm Turnbull (which almost immediately descended into a toxic and exhausting scrum) gave equal validation to both sides of the campaign, elevating the ‘vote no’ party’s homophobic voice in the public arena.
Initially understood (at least by me) as a small dissenting and disorganised group given too much attention, the results of the ABS’s survey reveal a troubling discovery — that Australia is not as progressive as it believes itself to be.
4.87 million citizens actively voted against their fellow Australians receiving the same civil rights that they are entitled to. We finally know that Australia is one fifth homophobic, with ‘no’ voters representing 20 per cent of the overall population — obviously not an ideal result.
Regardless, the Australian public has spoken (79.5 per cent of the country in a non-compulsory vote — go Australia!) and demand to be heard. That’s 12.73 million people that put pen to paper and into the post-box, and that in itself is something to be proud of.
Surprisingly, twice as many people aged 65 and over got their votes back in comparison to people aged 18-24, and were more likely to vote ‘yes’ with 88 per cent to 74 per cent, according to the ABS’s statistics.
However, even though the country has said yes, same sex marriage remains illegal in Australia.
Shortly after the results were released, Turnbull issued a statement promising marriage equality legislation by Christmas. For this to become a reality, the marriage equality legislation will need to pass a vote (not by post this time) in the House of Representatives by December 3. If all goes to plan all Australians will be able to marry by at least July 2018 (it’s the Australian government, let’s be real).
This, however, is not as much of a worry, as the ABC found that 97 per cent of the House of Representatives members support same sex marriage. Let’s hope the marriage equality legislation gets passed as soon as possible — it’s time for the Australian government to finally listen to the Australian public’s demands, and to do their jobs properly.
Marriage equality in Australia is inevitable, and while this should have been sorted years ago it’s nice to be a part of history, and to experience the liberty that comes from celebrating equal rights.
Today, we celebrate a win. There’s still a way to go, but we’ll get there.