As Pride Month marches on this June, many cities around the globe are celebrating and taking part in supporting LGBTQ+ communities. Here at home, the Same-Sex Marriage debate is still at its height, even after countries like Ireland and the U.S. have now legalised marriage of same-sex couples. Is this because our government does not reflect the people or is it because we do not have enough LGBTQ+ politicians in Parliament?
A recent ReachTEL poll of 2740 Australians revealed that 65.7 per cent think that it is either ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’ for parliament to legislate marriage equality before next year. As more countries become marriage equality-friendly, we must look at our own politicians and government and try to justify our confusion and views as to why we have the delay of legislation. Late last year’s proposal of a $170 million plebiscite saw an uproar of disapproval and criticisms that eventually led to the Senate rejecting same-sex marriage.
The government’s 2017 budget includes another proposal for a plebiscite. In an interview with the Australian Equality Party leader, Jason Tuazon-McCheyne, he mentions that, “On the right side…they have no desire to bring further LQBTIQ people…” Nor do they have any intention of listening to the majority’s views on same-sex marriage. The secularity of the Australian government on marriage equality should not be overshadowed by traditional views and the endless fight to define what marriage is. This seems to be the crux of past speeches and debates as the nation lags behind the rest of the developed world.
The demand for a truly diverse Parliament and Senate is prevalent in today’s media, protests, and debates during elections. Even online, people’s opinions and views are expressed on what our parliament should be doing and criticism is placed on our lawmakers. Senators like Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie receive backlash with their opinions and views on social media. This, in contrast to politicians like Penny Wong, who has championed and continues to champion for women and homosexual rights on the Senate floor. Representation by all walks of life, especially in our parliament, would strengthen and progress the nation’s agendas and priorities. In a perfect world, it would look like a rainbow of faces.
Having more LGBT politicians would boost the demand for Marriage Equality. Traditionalists in parliament insist on ‘putting the vote to the public.’ But our parliamentarians forget their role – they are our voices. We need more than LGBTQ+ politicians. More women, races, and diversity to fully represent our egalitarian society. But that’s looking less likely to occur anytime soon, especially in today’s political climate.
“I do think we are taking steps forward,” said Western Australian politician Lisa Baker. In an interview, she describes the issue of same-sex marriage having been “made into a political football.” Recognising that marriage is to be a civil rights issue rather than a mere formality. It is a call for equality amongst everyone to ultimately reflect our diverse culture and society.
Fortunately, we are seeing more organisations vocalising their thoughts on gay marriage, like Airbnb with their campaign of The Acceptance Ring. “Democracy should represent the people fairly,” Ms Baker exclaims.
Although politics is often considered tedious to talk about, millennials should be engaged even more in these conversations, and be more politically active. Today’s issues such as the increase of university fees, Sydney’s lockout laws, and LGBTQ+ rights directly impact young people. Activism leading to influence is a proven and effective tool in getting our political representatives to listen to us, and it is something that the youth of today should be taking advantage of.