Complacency is a Killer of Societal Change
WORDS BY ANDREA ZEPHYR
Complacency is a killer of societal change, and this could not be more relevant with the upcoming marriage equality postal vote. I can't stress enough how important it is you triple check your enrolment, your mates enrolment, and everyone you know. Hell, even make some rainbow-themed cookies for your neighbours to push the YES agenda.
Why such the stress? Let's look at Australia's history:
Homosexuality was only decriminalised in NSW in 1984. That means for a significant portion of our state’s population who are older than 33, they've grown up in a society that believed you can be locked up due to your sexuality.
NSW wasn't the last either. The last state to follow was Tasmania in 1997. That would mean for the first five years of my life theoretically you could be imprisoned for loving someone of the ‘wrong’ sex.
It's no secret LGBTI people have faced resistance across the world from being accepted into society, but double standards in the law don't change as fast as people do. Whilst we all know a relative who's a bit outdated with their Christmas lunch conversations, this isn't the same as an argument with Aunty Cheryl.
For this postal ballot to pass as a Yes, we need 50% + 1 of Australians to vote for it. Based off numbers from the Australian Electoral Commission, we'd need 7,941,395 yes votes to win the YES vote, assuming 100% of people vote correctly.
To put it in perspective, even though the Liberals are in power, they only received a combined national total of 34% of the vote. In this case, it's much easier to be elected into majority government (or, you know, vote on marriage equality inside parliament @Malcolm Turnbull) than it is to win a yes or no postal ballot.
So how does your new enrolments change all this?
The AEC calculates 810,904 Australians are eligible but are not enrolled. That's about 5% of the eligible vote. The problem is, these people don't split evenly down the Yes and No line on marriage and would vastly change the results if they were all enrolled and voted.
The ABC reported in 2016 that nearly half of all 18-year-olds aren't enrolled to vote. On top of that, voters who move accommodation more frequently can have outdated enrolment details. Those aged listed most likely to be recent movers are 25-29, compared to least likely at 75-79.
For a postal vote, this means less young people are receiving their ballots. The same young people who've never grown up in a society that criminalised homosexuality. But let’s not just be anecdotal. Let’s look at polling of support for marriage equality based on age!
Australian Marriage Equality has compiled polling since 2005 that shows what our society thinks about same-sex relationships. A 2012 polling shows a massive 81% of 18 to 24-year-olds supported same sex marriage.
Start to see the problem?
A conservative government who has repeatedly refused to support LGBTI rights (including historically, the decriminalisation of homosexuality) has set up a process that is harder for you to participate in if you're statistically more likely to disagree with them. So why do I think this has taken so long to get to this point?
Many young people see marriage equality as inevitable, and thus we don't expect such opposition to it from communities that have consistently fought against it.
That attitude of inevitability doesn't just slow our push, but it sets up fuel for the conservative elements of our society to play the underdog, to constantly play victimhood and use dirty tactics such as misinformation and shock to scare those who've not made their minds up. We've already started to see this religious and neo-nazi connected posters put up in the past week.
But it’s the lives and happiness of older LGBTI people who have suffered. Peter Bonsall-Boone, commonly known amongst the community as Bon, and his partner Peter de Waal sought legal recognition of their 50 year relationship. Having lived through times where homosexuality has been criminalised, these two men have trail blazed LGBTI rights in Australia, despite their relationship being classed as lesser compared to straight couples.
Earlier this year, Bon passed away due to an aggressive cancer. He'd written personally to Malcolm Turnbull to give him the chance to see through one last bastion of LGBTI rights, but most importantly, to recognise his relationship as equal.
Young generations benefit and exist in a society that's inclusive, accepting and more compassionate due to the efforts of those who've come before us. Make sure you're not complacent. A ‘Yes’ vote is no certainty, and with 24 hours left to enrol, it is the duty of all those in favour of marriage equality to raise awareness amongst apathetic friends.
There’s less than 24 hours left to enrol!