Well that is a huge relief. With the postal survey confirming a vast majority of Australians believe in fairness and equality, social media has erupted with joy. For members of the LGBTIQ community especially, the prospect of the anti-equality campaign winning must have been an awful thing to contemplate, so I get the emotion around the occasion, but for me the main feeling is one of relief and having cleared the first possible stumbling block.
It is an important result but I’m not sure I can quite say I’m proud to be Australian today. It was moving to see the outpouring of emotion across Australia, but I am still deeply embarrassed that the hurtful survey had to be taken at all. I am also bewildered that even 30 odd percent of Australians feel they have a right to treat LGBTIQ people as inferior.
But these misgivings aside, well done to all those Australians who got out there and voted to show that they want our country to be a fairer one.
So now the wrangling about legislation will begin.
It should be simple from here on… Should be, anyway. The country has spoken loudly in rejecting discrimination of the LGBTIQ community. Government legislation that reflects that would pass both houses of parliament easily.
Which just goes to show how out of touch the hard right are. Not content with accepting the will of the Australian people, they are now pushing to circumvent any marriage equality legislation by diluting existing anti-discrimination laws. You know a conservative idea has to be batshit-crazy if Turnbull has the confidence to reject it outright, so it seems unlikely they will get their way.
Imagine if they did though? I’m not sure it would have the affect they are hoping for. Just because you can discriminate without legislative consequence does not mean there would be no consequences at all. The survey has just showed us that clearly that bigotry is now a minority position. As both the Liberal Party and the church have discovered, it is easy to hurt your brand with a hypocritical attitude towards Marriage Equality. In the age of social media, businesses openly discriminating against the LGBTIQ community might get a rude shock as to the public response.
Despite the fact that selling goods is how businesses make money, I keep hearing about hypothetical bakers who don’t want to be forced to sell goods to gay couples (as well as, presumably, divorcees and unmarried couples). If they even exist, they may find such a practice highly destructive to their brand.
Obviously I don’t want to see any weakening of anti-discrimination laws, but I suspect this is not something that needs to be feared overly. I wouldn’t give them much chance of getting through parliament to begin with and I suspect even if it they did, businesses would have to be very careful if they wanted to take advantage of the changes. But I have to recognise that I write this as someone unlikely to be affected by discrimination. Those who have been vulnerable for so long have every right to be concerned at any mention of watering down their legal protections. That is the opposite of what the country just voted for.