The Australian same-sex marriage debate has just escalated, with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announcing a huge amount of roll-backs to gay rights, in what Crikey described
as ‘the most significant rollback of gay and lesbian rights by a government in the Western world, ever.”
Indeed, Campbell Newman’s position on same sex marriage has been a debate in itself. Newman is personally for the motion, but in light of his party voting against the Queensland state civil union reforms just last year; he has shelved his own views as ‘immaterial’.
In a Digital Journal piece by your humble correspondent
just after the most recent state election; I covered Newman’s promise to ‘repeal the civil union act if possible’. To date, no such Western government has ever backed up to such a degree, and neither had Newman.
That all changed on June 12. Newman announced that although civil unions would not be ‘scrapped’, there would be the removal of a state-sanctioned ceremony.
Mr Newman said the ceremonies had "offended Christian groups" because they sought to emulate marriage between a man and a woman.
"It will no longer emulate marriage, which I believe is demonstrating a lot of good faith to the Christian churches who have lobbied us," he said. "But on the other side of the equation, for those in the gay and lesbian communities who fought hard to have such a registration process in Queensland, it preserves their legal rights.
"For those who rallied recently and said don't take away our civil rights, they lose nothing from this change, they lose nothing whatsoever."
Australian Christian Lobby Queensland director Wendy Francis said she was pleased the ceremonies would be removed from the act but would have preferred the act was repealed.
"I'm glad that the particular element in the legislation that mimics marriage is to be removed," she said.
It’s really quite incredible; the idea of two men (or two women), holding a secular, legal ceremony is too much to bear, simply because it ‘mimics’ heterosexual marriage. As if the sanctity of marriage would crumble to ash if two women hold a state-sanctioned ceremony for close family and friends.
But, Newman’s reforms didn’t end there. On June 22, the Liberal-National party announced that singles and same-sex couples would be excluded from having a child through surrogacy
. Doing a complete 180 in his pre-election promise that the surrogacy laws would remain untouched, Newman has pandered to the Christian right in his party yet again.
Queensland have not been silent either. Several thousand people marched on Queensland’s parliament on the eve of the civil union reforms, and several people were forcibly removed from the public gallery at parliament after verbally voicing their objections (including a good friend of your narrator).
Finally, the term ‘civil union’ was abolished, and replaced by ‘registered relationship’.
"Registered relationships ... next you get a little plastic tag to wear and an ear tattoo," wrote a dissenter on social-networking site Twitter.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg also attempted to defend the state government’s decision to withdraw $2.5 million in funding
from the state’s only health organization focused on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDs among the homosexual, bisexual and transgender communities.
‘‘[The] majority of Queenslanders have no idea this is a major and growing issue with rates doubling in Queensland and we’ve got to do something about it and I intend to do something about it,’’ he told 612 ABC Brisbane.
This entire debate has become both troubling and tiresome. Troubling, because in light of the Liberal-National party’s landslide victory in the state election – they essentially have a free-reign on public policy – with no meaningful opposition to fight against these bills, and tiresome; because no secular society in 2012 should be dealing with the antics of Wendy Francis and the Australian Christian Lobby.
If you – dear reader – perhaps feels no particular moral objection to these changes, then ask yourself; if the phrase ‘same-sex’ was substituted by ‘negro’, would your revulsion by thereby increased?
On Monday, the Australian Senate strongly recommended a change to the marriage act
, despite Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s (currently leader of the Labor party) and the Liberal-National coalition’s opposition to a change in the Australian Marriage Act; because of the overwhelming motion by the public. Of the 79,200 submissions attracted by the gay marriage bill, 46,000 supported this landmark legislation.
Australia’s public are for the motion, our elected politicians are against it. This idiocy is absolutely disgraceful. At the risk of sounding flippant; if Hollywood ‘flash’ marriages are perfectly legal, it is a horrendous insult to same-sex couples around the world that their own relationships are not. The idea of a truly secular Australia has been very gravely retarded in Queensland; it’s about time this is changed.