Oct. 11 was a dark day in Australia for human rights activists who are fighting for same-sex marriage. The movement to achieve equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people started several years ago when more and more countries made same-sex marriage legal.
According to NBC News, the right for same-sex marriage in Australia will probably be delayed another three years after the Australian Labor Party, the opposition, said that it would not support a national vote. Without the support of some oppositions, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition only has a small majority in the lower house of the parliament and does not have a majority in the upper house.
This decision may not come to a surprise to those who are aware that the Australian government is quite conservative.
“I do know that the conservative party generally wins the elections … they’re in power now,” said Dr. John McTague, professor of history. “The conservatives have dominated parliament.”
Also, an NBC poll from Aug. showed that 61 percent of Australians supported same-sex marriage. The rejection of a national referendum also lowers the support of the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull has said that, should the legislation proposing a national vote be rejected, the issue of same-sex marriage would not be reintroduced into Parliament until after the next election, which is due in or before Nov. 2019, according to NBC News.
“Why should a couple in a committed relationship have to knock on the doors of 15 million of their fellow Australians and see if they agree with it? The easiest way is the way which this parliament has done for a hundred years – legislate,” said Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten in an interview with NBC News.
The happenings in Australia bring up the global topic of same-sex marriage again, and advocates of same-sex marriage are afraid of an increasingly harmful and homophobic attitude by people towards same-sex unions.
Globally, the rights for LGBT people were strongly debated, and many western countries legalized the same-sex marriage while establishing the same rights for marriage that a heterosexual marriage has. Most governments struggled with strictly religious people and conservative parties that did not want to grant these rights to lesbian or gay couples.
As human right activists and people supporting LGBT rights increasingly raised their voice against this discrimination, politicians started listening and brought these topics to the table. With the power of their unity, they achieved a lot but it is still a long way to full equality.
In most western countries, in North America, Europe, and parts of South America, same-sex marriage is legal. However, in Africa and Asia, South Africa, and Singapore are only two countries that made it legal for same-sex couples to marry.
In Europe, it is fairly complicated. According to Spiegel magazine, it is legal to be in a same-sex partnership, only twelve countries in the European Union have absolute equal marriage, while others have recognized partnerships or do not offer the same rights. In Germany, for example, it is legal to have a recognized partnership under the law that grants the couple equal tax rights as traditional marriages. On the other hand, Portugal gives equal marriage rights to LGBT couples but does not allow them to adopt children, which is allowed in most other countries.
While these approaches are positive progressions, there hasn’t been any progress in most Islamic countries in the Middle East and North Africa. A Human Rights Watch report showed that in many of these countries, it is illegal just to have a same-sex partner or openly talk about their sexual orientation. The punishments for these ‘crimes’ in the countries are cruel and reach from imprisonment to execution.
In these countries, there is no progress in sight because global leaders and presidents do not pay attention to these global issues and act. LGBT supporters in these countries have no voice they can raise and have to be afraid of getting killed for speaking out how they feel.
Many people claim that these countries clearly violate international human rights laws and argue that with pressure from other progressive governments that there will be strides towards freedom and equality in these countries.
In the United States, the support of the same-sex marriage had grown substantially that in Jun. of 2015, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states. In a five-to-four decision, the court decided that every state must recognize the union between same-sex couples. It was a nationally celebrated event and even the white house was lighted in rainbow colors.
Currently, the topic of LGBT rights is also a major topic in the U.S. election. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wants to support equality among people of all sexual orientations. She wants to continue President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect LGBT people from discrimination.
“Hillary will work with Congress to pass the Equality Act, continue President Obama’s LGBT equality executive actions, and support efforts underway in the courts to protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in every aspect of public life,” as stated on Clinton’s campaign website.
The conservative’s Republican Party’s candidate Donald Trump stated previously that each state should have the right to decide about LGBT rights. For example, in cases of which bathroom transgender people should use, each state should be able to regulate this issue.
“North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price. There’s a lot of problems. You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble, and the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife, and the economic punishment that they’re taking,” Trump said in an interview in Apr. of 2016 after North Carolina passed a bill that restricted the bathroom use for transgender individuals’ that conform with their gender identity.
Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson is the only one of the three candidates that have a fighting chance to get elected, who have never previously opposed LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. Both, Clinton and Trump have previously stated that marriage should only be allowed between a man and a woman.
In fact, Johnson’s was already fighting for equal rights back in 2010, advocating for the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy which prohibited openly gay service members from serving, according to BallotPedia, an encyclopedia dedicated to American politics.
“While virtually all other significant military powers in the world have long ago lifted their bans on gays serving openly in the military — with no adverse effects — the U.S. has stubbornly clung to a ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy that accomplishes nothing other than forcing thousands of brave service members to live lies,” Johnson wrote in the Huffington Post back in 2010.
Even though the focus of the candidates has slightly drifted away to more personal topics in the last debates, LGBT rights remain a topic that can make the difference between winning and losing in a close election.