One step forward, two steps back…
15th November 2017 marked the day where Australia was one step closer to marriage equality. A voluntary vote that had taken place resulted in approximately two thirds (61.6%) of 12.6million eligible voters voting in favour of same-sex marriage. Legislative proceedings began and 14 days later on the 29th November the same-sex marriage bill was passed, in doing so, Australia has become the 26th nation to legalise Same-Sex Marriage.
This is somewhat impressive but why so late? Why in 2017 are we still debating whether two adults can marry? In fact why do we even vote on matters as such? It is a right which should be given. Humans should have the right to marry whomever they please so long as both parties consent.
Despite much progression in society in relation to the acceptance and freedom of homosexuality, we still have a long way to go. Marriage equality is one thing but the fact that only 26 countries have achieved this shows that people who identify as homosexual are not as widely accepted across the globe as we may perceive. There is even room for improvement in the countries that do have marriage equality, for example in Australia although getting a majority vote, close to 40% of people voted against SSM and 12 senators opposed the bill. Also throughout the polling and decision making, so called ‘anti-LGBT’ activists ran a divisive campaign in aims to reduce the yes votes. So without doubt this is a historic moment in LGBT+ history but it has also sadly highlighted the fear, hate and lack of support for the community.
Within the same week of the Australian vote a big decision was made in Turkey which would negatively impact the entire LGBT population there. In what is being described as a ‘government crackdown’ on the 20th November 2017, the capital banned all public events relating to LGBT issues. This is a direct subordination of LGBT people and an infringement on their rights. LGBT people in Turkey already experience extreme levels homophobia involving antagonism and physical attacks – despite homosexuality being legal the human rights violations against the community are vast.
The act of banning these events takes away a safe space for LGBT people, this will have dire effects on their emotional well-being and make them more susceptible to attacks as group collectivism and solidarity essentially becomes impossible for them without further prosecution.
The government claim the ban is an attempt to combat discrimination and hate but what it does more is oppress and take away the freedom and safety of the LGBT, tactics like these encourage widespread intolerance of the community and the government banning such acts can be seen as legitimising the very prevalent homophobic views and ideologies in turkey.
So, will we ever get closer to a world fully accepting of the LGBT community? The legalising of same sex marriage is something (and it should not be discredited) but in the grand scheme of things it’s helping very few – just because something is put on paper it does not necessarily reflect the reality of an issue; which is the fact that a lot of those who identify as LGBT, particularly in predominantly non-secular countries are still having to hide who they are for the sake of others out of sheer fear of being persecuted. How are we still justifying this? How are the violent attacks on the LGBT community still being allowed? How does someone being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and so forth affect your life and you as an individual? It doesn’t. We must show others that those of the LGBT community are just as human as anyone else. They are not “abnormal” or “inhumane” or “possessed”. They are human.