This post is based on Marcus O’Donnell’s article in The Conversation, As a gay man, I will not be lectured on discrimination by Julia Gillard.
Sexism and gender inequality are important and pressing issues in Australian politics. Julia Gillard is justified to bring them up into the political debate.
But why is she quick to highlight the inequality faced by women whilst simultaneously refusing to end discrimination against homosexuals by denying their right to marriage?
Would it have something to do with the fact that half of her electorate – or the whole country in general – is female, while “some of the marginal electorates in Northern Queensland and Western Sydney that most concern Labor are 75% Christian”?
Or would it have anything to do with the fact that her Labor Party still contains an influential religious right-wing, dominated by Catholics?
And why would she say she didn’t support changing our laws concerning gay marriage because exclusively heterosexual marriage was a “cultural institution of long standing in Australian society” and “some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future”?
Gender inequality, misogyny and patriarchal culture in our institutions and social and political spheres were also a “cultural institution of long standing in Australian society”. But Ms Gillard is more than happy to see that social and cultural trend disappear, as are most Australians.
But most Australians (62 per cent of us according to the polls) want to see sexual discrimination on the basis of marriage ended as well; and I suspect, as “an atheist, socially progressive woman in a defacto relationship”, she does too deep down.
The problem is, it’s too costly for her political cause for her to campaign for gay marriage; it won’t cost her anything to “play the gender card” because most Australians already agree with gender equality and the need to improve it – it’s a free and easy cause for her to pick up to galvanise support without actually doing much in terms of policy action.
There is nothing wrong with bringing up issues of gender inequality – it’s just a bit too easy. If you really want to do something to end discrimination, Ms Gillard, campaign for gay marriage this election.
On the brightside, the senate has just passed a sexual discrimination bill, which extends the same protections that already cover gender, race and disability discrimination to homosexuals and transgender people.
This is despite opposition from… well, the Opposition, on grounds that it prohibited religious organisations from being able to discriminate against gays and transgenders under their right to freedom of religion. This is why it doesn’t matter who leads both Parties, they’re both terrible.