By Bianca Taipe
A majority of Australians voted in support of the legalization of same-sex marriage in a public opinion survey issued on November 15 according to The New York Times. Following the approval, festivities and celebration ensued from the Australian LGBTQ+ community, with people of all walks of life donning rainbow clothing and accessories in line with the pride flag.
Despite 63 percent of Australians approving same-sex marriage, many citizens are frustrated with the timing of the victory. They feel that the win was delayed and only proves how the Australian people are far more ahead of the current government, The New York Times reports.
The impatience for a new policy regarding same-sex marriage was clear: the turnout for the survey was much higher than expected, with 78.2 percent of the votes coming from people aged 18 to 19, according to The New York Times. In turn, a bill has been introduced by lawmakers that will legalize same-sex marriage by the end of this year.
Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbell, anticipates to pass legislation by the end of December, something that many citizens feel is still long overdue, reports Daily Mail. Martin Scriha, a bartender residing in Northern Queensland, said to The New York Times, “it was just another example of where Australia stands on social issues–a bit more behind than everywhere else”.
Although many have expressed their support of this social reform, some have come out in opposition like Senator Eric Abetz. He reports his frustration to The Washington Post: “Keep in mind there are 4.8 million of our fellow Australians that actually voted no… Do we say they should no longer be heard?”. This question uncovers the divide in Australia that has become increasingly frustrating to the people residing there.
While the vote was certainly momentous, it also helped to expose a rift that is present in Australian society. Not only did the decision show the defeat of both the Catholic and Anglican churches, who both strongly disagreed with the movement, but it also revealed a divide in the matter through wealth.
According to The Washington Post, the suburbs filled with working-class immigrants were in opposition to the decision while the wealthy urban areas were the strongest proponents. In addition,the Washington Post also commented on how, in a nation that becomes increasingly secular by the decade, religious freedoms are still being hotly debated.
Despite the inevitable debate that the vote caused, the outcome is another step in the global effort for marriage equality. It is a victory for humanity and love as well as a victory for Australia. It is also a victory for those in the LGBTQ+ community, many of whom have been undermined and discriminated against for far too long. It is a victory for Arthur Cheeseman, 85, and his partner John Challis, 89, the oldest gay couple in Australia reports by the Independent. As Cheeseman puts it, the victory for him and the community is “a new dignity, a new status, a new place in society. We are the same as everyone else”.