Australia legalizes gay marriage
December 7, 2017, is a day to remember to most Australians. After all, the country finally approved the gay marriage legislation. The House of Representatives changed the definition of marriage from a man and a woman to “a union of two people”.
While Australia is traditionally one of the most open-minded countries in the world, they took their time to get to a consensus. So, it’s not a surprise that Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, proclaimed the day as the “day for love, for equality, for respect.” Australia was the 26th country in the world to legalize gay marriage.
The truth is that while most Australians are celebrating the change of the law, this was an intense battle in the country. Ever since 2004, there were 22 different attempts to legalize gay marriage in Parliament. However, the former Prime Minister has always been a clear voice against it and the truth is that Australia’s Parliament and Government felt that they needed to hear it from the voice of the Australian people directly. So, following Ireland, Australia organized a huge postal survey that was run by the national statistics agency. According to the former Australia’s Prime Minister, Mr. Abbott, he considered that this was the best solution since the answer wouldn’t leave any doubts behind. And I have to say that even though he was against the legalization of same-sex marriages, he was compelled to express his democratic point of view by allowing Australians to speak.
With more than 62% of Australians voting in favor of the new law, it took the Parliament four session days and more than 100 people speaking to get the new law approved.
However, when everyone thought that after the win of pro-same-sex marriages within the postal survey wasn’t going to be any more problems, there were still some conservative lawmakers and religious organizations who proposed several amendments. According to them, bankers and florists, for example, should have a broad protection and they should be able to refuse service to these couples. While some issues can be altered at a later date, all of these amendments were refused during the Parliament discussion.
While Australia’s Prime Minister and the Government feel they did what they had to do running the postal survey, both the United Nations Human Rights Committee and most gay rights advocates believe that the law should have been approved in a different way. While the first believe that the survey was “an unnecessary and divisive public opinion poll”, the second ones believe that it was simply a delaying tactic.
Nevertheless, I just have to say that I’m happy for the Australians. After a long and hard fight they finally got there. Furthermore this shows that it’s becoming rarer to find a Government or a Parliament that actually listens to their people. And yes, it may have taken them 13 years to get it. However, they had the perseverance and fought for their rights as human beings.
Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash