If last week is anything to go by, it seems the biggest threat to forging ahead with LGBTI rights in Australia is apathy.
It took the worried urgings of PFLAG national convenor Shelley Argent and a few others last Friday morning to point out that only seven submissions had been received from the LGBTI community as part of the public consultation for Queensland Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser’s civil union bill.
It was reported that the Australian Christian Lobby, however, had managed a flood of 300 letters.
I can’t speak to the quality of submissions from either side, whether pro-forma letter, or heartfelt response, but the difference is marked.
Queensland does not have a relationship register, or civil union scheme, for same-sex couples like those operating in most southern states.
While there has been much derision of these schemes — many claim they will ‘register’ their dog, but not their life partner — they still provide a legal avenue for same-sex couples to prove they are in a relationship. It might not be perfect, but it’s something.
Small steps to the end goal of equality.
Luckily, same-sex couples, like unmarried straight couples, are considered ‘de facto’ under Australian law, so when it comes to the legal crunch, most of the time gay and lesbian couples are covered.
Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why Queenslanders didn’t feel the need to put pen to paper, or the less romantic finger to keyboard, to share their enthusiasm for a state civil union scheme.
A poll released this year, commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality, showed 75 percent of those surveyed believe same-sex marriage was “inevitable”.
Given the lay of the current federal Parliament, “inevitable” may be further away than we think.
Those who expect politicians to do the right thing by these numbers need to seriously think again. This battle is far from over, and more effort is needed.
It’s a shame more people couldn’t take a few minutes out of their day to share their stories and how a scheme like this might impact their lives.
Perhaps it won’t. Perhaps it’s marriage or bust.
But the parliamentary committee report-back, due on November 21, may unflatteringly reveal that people simply don’t care.