In a country that has a woman as a Prime Minister, various religions peacefully co-existing and a culturally diverse community, it would appear that Australia is a land of equality.
One in ten Australians, however, do not have the same equal rights as the rest of the nation. By law, marriage between two partners of the same sex is illegal. Within South Australia, it is also illegal for a person with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual to adopt a child individually. This nation-wide discrimination of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people is spread straight from the law books into today’s community. A recent study showed that over 25% of LGBT youth are forced onto the streets after coming out to their parents. Furthermore, figures show that LGBT youth are up to “four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers”.
These distressing statistics highlight how important it is for not only the adults of our community to be given equal rights, but for our children, to help prevent these monstrous events occurring.
Some argue that it’s about religion; others argue it’s unnatural, and some believe it would ruin the sanctity of marriage. Despite the various excuses for discrimination, ten socially advanced countries have proven that marriage equality has little to no negative effect on the country or its heterosexual inhabitants.
In recent years, polls have shown that 80% of Australians aged 18 – 24 want to see same-sex marriage become legal. However the Australian Government, which appears to remain as narrow minded as John Howard, has left the Marriage Act intact.
Former PM, John Howard, made himself extremely clear since his first days in office on where he stood not only on gay rights, but the gay community. Refusing to offer his support in the January 1997 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras exposed the nation to his bigoted attitudes, with him later commenting that he would be “disappointed” if one of his children identified themselves as gay.
The 2007 election, in which Howard lost, proved that with acceptance and more equality of the LGBT community, less discrimination would be cast upon them. With the Labor Party openly supporting the LGBT community, public opinion on them changed immensely. This shift can be viewed in polls taken from the time, such as an online poll from The Age in 2008; in which 79% of readers believed that same-sex couples should have the right to marry.
The facts speak for themselves. With members of our society being treated as second-class citizens, there will be intolerance towards them. These human beings are kicked out of home, beaten to a pulp, and fired from their jobs all because of something as uncontrollable as one’s race.
Who in their right mind would prefer to see a child alone in an orphanage, without a family who loves them, than to be raised by two doting people of the same sex? Who would rather see members of the community take their lives, instead of vowing to spend the rest of it with a gay partner? No matter sexuality, gender or race, we are all human – and we all deserve to be treated like one.
For the LGBT community, coming out never really ends. One can come out to their nearest and dearest, but they still have to come out to others. Do they bother to correct the person who assumes they date women? Do they let their employers know? All they ask is for the Australian Government to come out and state that being of a different sexual orientation is okay in the eyes of the law. To have their union formally recognized. To be able to stand in front of their family and friends and share their love – that’s what it takes to undo years of prejudice against the LGBT community. That’s what it takes to let people walk freely from the closet, not to have it deconstructed around them.