Hornet Senior Editor Alexander Kacala sat down with LGBTQ and HIV activist Nic Holas to discuss the fight for marriage equality in Australia.
Holas explains: “The fight for same-sex marriage in Australia has been going on for 13 years, since 2004 when a Conservative government changed the wording of the law to say that marriage was specifically between a man and a woman.”
“And this was in reaction to the fight for same-sex marriage. It was happening in Canada and Europe and so instead of progressing the law they actually made it tougher and that was the start of the modern movement for marriage equality in Australia and it has been dragging on for 13 long years.”
“And now we’re at the really pointy, really tricky end where after all of that time it looks like we might possibly, maybe get it over the line through a — I kid you not — a survey in the mail that our government is sending out to people to decide whether or not we should have marriage equality.”
“This whole survey has come about because the Conservative government that’s in power right now, our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, when he took the leadership when he became the prime minister, he made a deal with the far-right members of his party that he wouldn’t put marriage equality through unless it went to a national vote to everyone.”
“Originally, this was something called the plebiscite where people were going to have to come out of their houses and go to like a voting booth. But it’s like you would on voting day when you vote for someone you’d have to go out and and put your vote in the box on whether or not we should have same-sex marriage.”
“The crazy thing about that is that we don’t need to do that it’s not in our constitution, you could just put it through Parliament and they could vote on it and it could happen. But the far-right are trying to stop this happening so they’re coming all of these crazy ways and originally it was this plebiscite.
“Now, the LGBTIQ community said we don’t want the plebiscite, we think it’s expensive and it’s going to be really harmful, you know? It’s going to create this whole public debate and not everyone needs to have a yes or no… that’s why we vote for people. So we knocked the plebiscite down and now the government has sneakily come up with this postal way of doing the plebiscite.”
“Yeah, so we tried really hard. We even took it to the High Court which is like our version of the Supreme Court to try and get them to stop it but it got voted down and now it’s happening and the mail is being sent out this week. I got to tell you, I’m old and gay enough to remember the only good gay stuff in the mail was the International Male Catalog so we’re all really nervous about this.”
“I’ve got to say we’ve seen some awful stuff already in the “No” campaign. We’ve seen people’s spreading lies that you know a vote for same-sex marriage is a vote for polyamory, for child abuse. It’s, you know, where it’s terrible for rainbow families, we don’t deserve gay marriage because gay men have higher rates of HIV and AIDS, like they’re pulling out all the stops.”
Nic Holas is a writer who focuses on the contemporary gay experience, and being a person living with HIV. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Archer Magazine, Hello Mr, Star Observer and others. He is Contributing Editor of Check Up for the Gay News Network. You can find him on Twitter here, or in his role as co-founder of HIV social umbrella The Institute of Many.