How To Vote Gay On Election Day
By Cameron Colwell
While a sizeable portion of our readers might say that the best thing to happen on Election Day would be the jailing of all politicians, I choose here to present the implications for queer people in the event the anarchistic Pink Revolution does not take place, and we are left with one of three prime ministers rather than an anarcho-socialist utopia.
Instead of basing this article on pure speculation, I will discuss what the two major party’s records on queer people indicate for the future.
First, then, the current government. What have they done for queer people, so far? Actual policy regarding members of the LGBTIA community is nearly non-existent, and the main interactions between the Liberal Party of Australia have not been too positive, to say the least. What I’m talking about here is the Liberal backlash towards the Safe Schools Coalition’s sex education program:
To whit, we have Tony Abbott’s complaint that teaching high schoolers that The Gays are a thing is “social engineering”; ex Prime-Minister John Howard saying that the people supporting SSC are out of touch and that the ever-elusive Middle Australia are concerned about the Safe School’s content; known homophobe Cory Bernardi suggesting that a program which tells LGBTIA+ kids that it is okay to be whoever they are automatically means heterosexual students are being bullied into homosexuality, and, apparently getting his queer theory from a 1960’s textbook; George Christensen likening the program to pedophile grooming.
In summation, the views of sexuality presented by the Liberal Party around the key LGBTIA+ of their latest term have not been too brilliant.
That said, Turnbull did pose for a photo at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. There is that, I suppose, never mind if it is belittled by his later, utter refusal to mention the LGBTIA+ community during his speech about the Orlando shooting. The main piece of Liberal policy regarding queer people is the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
However, it should be mentioned that the same-sex plebscite is non-binding – Bernardi might’ve been onto something when he called it a “glorified opinion poll.”
The Labor Party have been somewhat more proactive in addressing the plight of queer people in Australia, promising full funding for the Safe Schools Program, marriage equality legislation passed within 100 days of Labor forming government, and the promised appointment a ‘discrimination officer’ for those under the LGBTIA+ umbrella. The actual role of this office remains to be seen – namely, whether it’s meaningful for queer people, or merely a tokenistic nod towards us.
It also feels appropriate to mention that the history of the Labor Party and queer people seems to be fairly amicable over the last couple of decades. It was the Labor party who have brought change for us in legislation: In 1999, Labor recognised same-sex relationships in law, in 2008, they allowed same-sex people access to the family courts, and in 2013 Labor successfully legislated the first national anti-discrimination laws on the planet.
We also have the promise of marriage equality legislation passed within 100 days of Labor forming government.
Of course, neither of these parties are doing well in regards to the most vulnerable members of the queer communities affected by Australian policy.
Here, I am talking about the refugee situation. Others have talked about the unique plight of queer people seeking asylum better than I could: See, for instance, Gillian Trigg’s speech about the LGBTI+ community and refugees. As she said, ““Asylum seekers who are LGBTI/queer suffer very particular disadvantages when making legal claims for protection. They’re subject to decision makers who are very poorly trained in LGBTI issues, they tend to operate on a stereotypical basis.”
Unfortunately, both parties seem hesitant to do anything about the hellish conditions enabled by a police of off-shore processing, damning them both in that regard.
There is, of course, the Greens, alongside a number of minor parties both very progressive in their outlook on queer issues (The Sex Party) and several decades behind the mainstream (Looking at you, Christian Democrats.) The Greens have no less than 65 progressive policies regarding queer people, reflecting an ambitious and progressive perspective.
Cynically, though, it feels fit to mention that, barring an act of God, it is nigh-impossible for the Greens to form government.
In contrast, some of the minor parties don’t seem to mention LGBTIA+ issues in their policies, past a vague mention of ‘family values’: I wonder what the Motoring Enthusiast Party’s views on international same-sex adoption is, for instance. Details on what Nick Xenophon, probably the foremost Independent in the country, thinks of LGBTIA+ issues are scant, but there is the one pro-queer move he has made, which is voting in the affirmative for a marriage equality bill in 2012. Of course, I could detail each and every one of the minor parties and independent’s views on LGBTIA+ issues, but, this is a short article, and not a book.
In the aim of integrity, I have chosen not to favour one party over any other.
If this article has consolidated a disillusion with the entirety of representative democracy, I feel a duty to remind you of two things. First, that, if you are eligible to vote, there is no such thing as not voting. Every ballot paper covered in penises rather than numbers is effectively a doubling of some other, more die-hard pundit. Second, that there are other ways to participate in democracy outside of the ballot box. You could join a union or a lobby group, for instance.
Regardless, there will be queer people who plan on negatively gearing investment properties voting for the Liberal Party , there will be queer people who earnestly believe in the power of Shorten’s positive policies, and, of course, there will be queer people believing that this is the election in which the Greens finally make the miracle of coming to power.
Whatever the case, the fact remains: Queer people are here, we are voting, and our voice matters.