I am jealous of the people of Edinburgh. I am jealous of the amazing food, culture and landscape. But I am especially jealous of their right to love; their right to feel unashamed of who they love. Coming from Australia, I have experienced no such right.
Australia has always been portrayed as free: a land of infinite opportunity and fierce mateship which would always embrace travellers and citizens alike with open arms. But the façade of this country is a lie. We are not the happy-go-lucky, toes in sand paradise the media perceives us to be. Behind the image of a sun-tanned surfer hanging ten on Bondi beach lies an iron wall of oppression and injustice.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberal Party have waged a despicable war on love. As I write this, Australia is in the midst of a vote which will determine if members of the LGBTQIA+ community will have the right to marry. This vote will be decided by the public. The government is essentially handing control over the sexual and romantic life of my friends and I to the public, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Many are struggling to comprehend the selfishness of the Prime Minister and the absolute devastation he has caused. Because of his heinous activity, my friends have questioned their self-worth and whether they are true citizens of this country. Not only has the existence of this vote shone a harsh light on Australia’s underlying prejudice, but it has given homophobes an excuse to lash out on the LGBTQIA+ community, in incidences of hate fuelled acts of vitriol and violence.
My friends have been assaulted at university, at rallies and on social media, yet the government seems to believe they are doing the right thing for Australia. In the past, the Liberal Party has used the excuse of religion as their crux, arguing that same-sex marriage would go against the fundamental principles of Christianity. But as the results have come in, we have seen more than 64 per cent of citizens vote ‘Yes’ for equality, a majority of those being practicing Christians. What is Turnbull’s excuse now?
Spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars, Turnbull has shone a harsh light on the reality of this so called “land of plenty”. Although a majority ‘yes’ vote is expected, the government still have ultimate control of the final result. It is all a shockingly pointless exercise and yet, millions of dollars later, we are still here.
Maybe one day we will reach that proverbial rainbow, but until then, Australia waits with baited breath. Although they can try to shame, break and tear us apart, one thing is for certain. We will never stop loving.
Image: Nimal Skanhandumar via Flikr