Magda Szubanski has made an emotional appearance on The Today Show to call on supporters of marriage equality to enrol and vote in the upcoming postal poll.
“I barely made it through my childhood, and I don’t want that to happen to any of these kids,” she said tearfully.
“They’ll send our children to war, they’ll kill them without consulting us, but they won’t protect them.”
Szubanski said she is baffled by the double standard of politicians who claim to want to “protect” children from marriage equality but won’t protect them in other ways.
“Tony Abbott, who goes on and on about the children, I’ve heard him say very little—the silence is deafening when it comes to sexual abuse of children particularly within the Catholic Church,” she said.
“The whole thing with marriage equality is you can’t have a nation in which a certain percentage are not given equality under law. In terms of the taxes they want to get from us, it’s absolutely equal, but in terms of our rights it’s not.
“I want to send a strong message… we’ll get through this, we’ll survive it, and we need young [LGBTI] people to not isolate themselves, to reach out, to find the support. And we are there. We’ve got their backs.
“It’s really important that people not be complacent about this, because this is—I don’t like the plebiscite, but it’s a chance for us all to have a voice in what sort of nation we want to create.”
The actor said voting in the poll is a simple way that Australians can defend equality.
“My family hid Jews in Poland during the war. They risked their lives. All that people need to do for this is put a postage stamp on an envelope and send it, so please.
“When I think about my childhood and the vilification and disgust that I was on the receiving end of… it’s so unnecessary. You talk about Christian charity, and this is the most unkind thing for no good reason.”
Speaking to Star Observer, Szubanski advised the LGBTI community to keep up hope.
“Don’t give in to despair and cynicism,” she said.
“Use your hurt and your pain and your anger to get organised and get active. Take a hand in your destiny. Don’t allow others to victimise you. See it for what it is—ill informed, misguided bigotry and hatred—and don’t take it on board. Use it to fuel you to make change in the world.”
Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue, said young queer people have the strength to get through the potentially harmful marriage debate.
“LGBTI people are strong, resilient, contributing members of society, and we will get through this,” she said.
“But we all hold grave concerns for some of the hatred and some of the bigotry and really distressing stuff that’s being seen around in posters and on social media.
“From beyondblue’s perspective, we’re just really concerned about people, regardless of what view they hold and which way they’re going to vote, that they keep it respectful and responsible. The debate can be had without doing harm to people.”
Harman said anyone struggling in the current environment should reach out to friends, family or professional help from services such as beyondblue.
“Young LGBTI people… are made to feel like crap just for being who they are,” she said. “That is our greatest concern. But our message to everyone in the LGBTI community is that beyondblue stands with you and support is out there.”
Szubanski agreed that anyone feeling down because of the marriage equality debate should stay connected with loved ones or professional services, but also suggested LGBTI media as a way to feel better.
“Watch some LGBTI TV shows and films that normalise your world for you,” she suggested.
“There’s so many of us out there. In any way that you can, if you don’t have people around you, reach out online or via media to surround yourself with LGBTI people.”
Voters have until August 24 to enrol or update their details to ensure they can vote in the upcoming postal poll on marriage equality.