If marriage equality in English-speaking nations were a horse race, Australia would be coming up the rear. A complete non-shock to Aussies far and wide, the sunburnt land that birthed queer pride through the reinvigoration of ABBA and the desert march of three drag queens into the 1990s outback, is now faced with an ongoing battle towards achieving equality on the simple grounds of love.
As England and Wales celebrate their very recent victory in the House of Lords of becoming the 16th and 17th countries to allow same-sex marriage respectively, many of the world’s great economic powerhouses and cultural icons are fighting their own fight for their citizens to wed the one they love, regardless of gender.
Down Under, personalities have begun clashing with politics and the nation’s leaders are yet to follow suit with fellow antipodeans, New Zealand, and vote for change to the Marriage Act.
Dating back just less than ten years to May 2004, then Attorney-General Philip Ruddock altered the future of gay and lesbian Australians when he introduced a bill to amend the marriage act so as to define the union strictly between a man and a woman.
It was then in that windy Autumn that Australia’s race to marriage equality was pushed to the back of the starting gate and forced to leave other progressive nations to bolt on forward.
Zooming into the present, our wild brumby of a horse remains just as untamed as the day we caught her, and is still too stubborn to take any real leaps and bounds in the right direction, preferring that arguably more conservative countries step forward to claim their participant’s ribbons.
A more malicious slap across the face than seeing a ditzy bride cluck around at her hen night in a gay club, the sunny sister of Britain is widely known for her lavish pride festivals – Can you really tell me you’ve never heard of, or wanted to attend Sydney Mardi Gras and march along a strip so colourful and glitter-filled streets so that you wake up the next morning looking like a rainbow unicorn piñata?
New South Welshmen and women aren’t the only Aussies who take great joy in celebrating their diversity with the world. But year in, year out as we slip behind in the rankings, we become more of a one-trick show pony, with less pizzazz and glamour as our wild scrubland spirit is slowly broken.
Every time the clock rolls around for another Mardi Gras season, Sydneysiders and their nationwide counterparts roll into town to share something special – and it isn’t the alphabet soup of STD’s that Google insists actually exist. It’s a common goal. One that we’re all certain is attainable within the next year… No, the next three. There’s one person standing in our way, and it isn’t the current prime minister.
Leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, has a steady backing of constituents following the other major party’s recent ousting of Julia Gillard and reeling in Kevin Rudd (also known as Kevin ’07) again.
A simple mention of the name Abbott is enough to visibly see spines shiver and tears of upmost hate fill someone’s eyes.
This is the man who, in 2013, will not vow to remove his conservative Christian agenda from his voting standards and look at all Australians as equal. For a man that has a well-known lesbian politician sister and daughters who wish to see him change his stance on same-sex unions, he’s not budging – and if you’re to do an internet search of ‘Tony Abbott in budgie smugglers’ you’ll understand how this man can permanently scar you.
Known as the Mad Monk, he’ll be facing good ol’ Kevin 07’ in a federal election sometime within the next year. It is there that our fight truly begins. Only a few months ago, prior to his reinstatement as PM, Rudd announced that despite his previously conflicted views on same-sex unions because of his Christian upbringing, he has come to understand the importance of recognising all Aussies in the union of marriage.
For those of us on the opposite side of the world, perhaps now you can all understand our dilemma. Be ruled by a man who lacks the competence of realising this is a secular nation, or vote for a man in charge of a political party with as much stability as a one-thousand-year-old rope footbridge in the mountains of Peru.
Until Abbott gives up his conservative agenda and allows a conscience vote on the issue, we can only hope that we might have a fighting chance with the rope footbridge party. At least Rudd has the backup plan of a referendum.
As we all know when it comes to the cricket pitch or rugby field, Australia’s a sore loser. Perhaps it best we give the horse, and by horse we mean Mr. Abbott, a bigger kick in the side if the green and gold jockey is to ever gallop over the equality finish line.