It’s looking like the marriage equality law will pass it’s final reading in the House tonight. It is a measure of how things have changed, indicating sexuality and gender prejudice are on the decline.
I’ve never been into marriage, one way or another. However, the way the law has been up til now, constructs an institutional inequality, that conveys the message of LGBTI people being second class citizens. It is the result of incorporating prejudice into law. It gives heterosexual couples a route to a particular form of social status, aligned to legal privileges, that is not open to non-heterosexual couples. The choice should be there for all, regardless of sex, gender or sexuality.
And times are changing. Gaynz shows the extent of the shift globally with a timeline of countries in which marriage has already been legally equalised, beginning with the Netherlands in 2001, followed by several European countries, Canada, some South American countries, South Africa, Iceland, and several states and territories.
It’s being called a “historic” law change: a large number of people are preparing to celebrate tonight, in honour the milestone achieved by the success of the marriage equality bill. For me, having lived through times when being the demonisation of those outside the hetero-norm was much stronger and extremely debilitating, it is pleasing to see such positive public expressions from diverse people and groups. I grew up as a lesbian in the late 50s and 60s. Consequently, my teenage years and my 20s, were not the happiest. I also have known lesbians and gays who suicided, were bashed in the streets by hate-mongers, did time in prisons and psychiatric hospitals, were separated from their families, were discriminated against at work.
However, the passing of the law will not bring an end to all prejudices, inequalities and debilitating practices. Some opposition, especially from religious conservatives, still continues. They seem unable or unwilling to understand that marriage equality takes nothing from them except their prejudices. Over at The Daily Blog, Steve Gray has posted a list of significant problems and challenges that LGBTI people still encounter, along with some background to each. The list:
1. Transgender Rights. …
2. Gay teen youth suicide rates. …
3. Gay teen homelessness. …
4. Violence against gay people. …
5. HIV Infections are up, again. …
6. Live how you really want. … (“but issues facing us are still many)”
I would add that LGBTI people still experience the negative impacts of prejudice in their families, social lives and at work: the lesbian and gay people in my current workplaces keep a low profile, and only talk about their personal lives to those they know to be supportive.
For those who see LGTI fights to end prejudice, discrimination, hate and oppression as a nice to have; a diversion form the “real” struggles….
You have NO FUCKING IDEA!
And for those also struggling to make do on low incomes, living in world with oppressive prejudices and practices is an intolerable burden.
This song for Tom Robinson was another milestone that occurred when I lived in London in the 1980s. I was totally astounded at the time, that such an in-your-face, pro-gay song would be on Top Of The Pops (the mainstream of Brit popular culture).
Today, here in NZ, is a day for celebration. A large number of people are preparing to celebrate tonight, in honour the milestone achieved by the success of the marriage equality bill. Take it away Topp Twins:
The Topp Twins and Georgina Beyer will be amongst the people crowding into the public gallery at parliament tonight.
Very good speech from Louisa Wall tonight – it provided sound arguments, while putting them in an international, social and historical context, focusing on cultural and Pacific diversity, and the impacts of anti-LGBTI prejudices.