What must be done for same – sex marriage to be legal in Australia? A plebiscite is almost a given, whether anyone likes it or not (I personally prefer it and have explained what I think the dangers are if there is any more censoring on this (and other), topics). A date isn’t finalised about when it’ll take place – but it’s almost definitely not going to happen this year. The date February 2017 has been thrown around. We’ll have to wait and see.
What DOES need to be thought about is the repercussions. I’m sceptical of the slippery slope argument, so I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about freedoms – freedom of speech and freedom of conscience/ religion. Whether people like to admit it or not, some people do have moral and/ or religious objection to same – sex marriage. Others, like Newscorp columnist/ blogger and TV presenter, Andrew Bolt, has worries about what it’ll do to the institution. As I’ve said before, abusing people with these and other concerns will not win hearts.
I want to talk more in depth about the issues of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.
Already, in Australia, people are feeling silenced. The latest case that has been used by conservatives is the court case where an employee sued students from Queensland University of Technology in 2013, after comments were made on social media protesting what was deemed “racial segregation” of computer labs. You can read more about the case here.. The election back in June and the rise of conservative minor parties emphasised the fact that people were sick of being muzzled and shouted down if they spoke about their fears surrounding mass migration, political correctness, etc. The Racial Discrimination Act (1975), is under scrutiny yet again, particularly section 18C; where it prohibits offence, humiliation, intimidation and or insulting another person based on race or ethnic background (the section is here.)
Back to the issue of same – sex marriage, there has already been tensions that has spilled over when it comes to the feeling of censorship against opponents. Last year, channels 7 and 10 came under fire for refusing to air a televised advertisement from the conservative group Marriage Alliance, a group that questions the impact of same – sex marriage on society, especially children.
More recently, Catholic Archbishop, Julian Porteous was at risk of being sued by a Tasmanian Greens candidate, transwoman, Martine Delaney, after a booklet “Don’t Mess with Marriage’ was distributed in Catholic schools across the country. Delaney feared that the Church’s argument against same – sex parenting was harmful to the LGBTQ community. Early this year, the complaint was withdrawn. Rather than seeing this as a “win” for free speech – and for many, common sense – many conservatives are still concerned that the case against Archbishop Porteous had gone so far. Again, conservatives have felt silenced.
Across the world, issues surrounding customer service and a business owner’s right to practice their religious beliefs. and even churches themselves, have also come up on a fairly regular basis. This has gone beyond a pastor/ priest/ other religious leader, the right to refuse to perform same – sex unions in a church. Again, the issue of the right for a person to hold conservative religious beliefs and express them, and anti – discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community has come to light. Gay activists have been accused of trying to “shut down” conservative religious leaders, demanding that they don’t say anything against homosexuality. . Is it possible that these are blown out of proportion? Frankly, I think it’s quite possible, (haven’t looked into it deeply, to be honest), but the fact that it’s perceived still, in my view, highlights the fact that conservatives feel like they are being silenced, yet again. I’ve written before, in other parts of the world, particularly Brazil, this perception has become dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community. .
Already in Australia, there’s been an uproar against ABCN over scholarships awarded to LGBT students, the “Safe Schools Program” has been proven to be a farcical Socialist manifesto, with parents feeling blindsided about what the program was about and its content (and much of it has been strongly criticised). These things do NOT do the LGBTQ+ community any good! The safest way forward is to let opponents speak. Allow debate. I don’t deny that offensive and hurtful things are going to be said. Young LGBTQ+ people will need a lot of support through the next couple of months. But stifling back, I fear, is going to prove to be worse for the LGBTQ+ community in the long run.