EVERY year the same sentiments on LGBTI issues are echoed: “This is the year equality will be achieved”.
We’re ever so hopeful that marriage equality and wider sex and gender inclusion will be gained.
Take a look at the issues, though. We might be moving further away.
Neither the Premier nor Opposition Leader of NSW support marriage equality, but their immediate predecessors did.
Don’t even bother raising the issue to Federal Cabinet, because they will just wheel out the openly-gay Senator Dean Smith to explain why he doesn’t support the cause.
And let’s not forget that one of Campbell Newman’s first acts was to go back against civil unions for a weirdly-named “registered relationship”.
With Mardi Gras looming comes the conversation about police and wider violence concerning the LGBTI community. Three years ago, we would never have considered this.
Our expectation that things will “just happen” is unrealistic.
It is quickly forgotten that everyone has a voice and the capacity to ask for equality – often this is left to a few who are more driven than the rest of us.
Sure, wide-ranging social issues are a bit too much for some people. We can all agree that the workplace is getting better, right?
“We are so much more inclusive in the workplace now than 10 years ago”, one of my brothers said to me recently. “The strides have been made, only idiots continue discriminate.”
This is not the case for the ambitious childless straight woman who is taunted about being lesbian. Or the gay man who is working for a stridently-conservative manager. Or like that time I was told it would be professionally strategic to keep my sexuality quiet.
Anyone that has ever looked at diversity at work will realise that when you provide a safer space for people to discuss discrimination, the stories seem endless. They keep coming and the expectation is for action.
It is the LGBTI community that Australia often looks to for progressive and exciting ideas in a wider conservative society. The old-school style of the Australian social discourse makes the journey a bit harder, but so much more rewarding.
I have met many people in committed relationships who are interested in getting married. They don’t want to wait, but for one reason or another will. Making the public call for a right can be difficult, but when these people fail to do so I have to ask: who will?
People who step up in the LGBTI community are expected to lead change on their own. Support is casual and conversational and the heavy lifting is done by a few.
While many of us believe that marriage equality will happen “one day”, there are a heap of other issues worth considering. Workplace discrimination seems to be evolving on a daily basis, the lack of awareness of trans* issues and the mental health challenges that plague young LGBTI people are but a few.
None will have quick fixes, but they require more than just one or two to put up their hands and raise it as an issue.
If you want to see marriage equality, when was the last time you spoke to your federal politician about it?
If you think that your workplace has a bigoted undertone, when was the last time you told HR?
If you stand against discrimination, when did you last call out bigotry at work, at home or among your friends?
Everyone can lift the community standard. It is about time we realised that if equality is going to be achieved, we all have to make a stand.
Conrad Liveris is an advocate, adviser and researcher on the politics and economics of gender and generations. He tweets at @ConradLiveris.