The recent statistics in favour of marriage equality — 66 percent according to NewsPoll, Galaxy Poll and Essential Media — reflect a positive social change for greater acceptance of same-sex attracted couples.

While this is a wonderful step in the right direction, it’s important not to get complacent and behave in a manner which sets the cause back.

Recent political discourse suggests that progressive politics — which the debate for marriage equality comes under — are indeed susceptible to public backlash. The resurgence of the religious right and the emergence of the Tea Party in the United States and the racism seen in Europe with rising immigration numbers has shown this to be the case.

The naming and shaming of ‘homophobic’ people with terms like ‘bigot’ or in some cases deeming them to be ‘as bad as Hitler’ alienates many people — across class, race, age, or political persuasion.

This is harmful for the cause as it involves purely an attack mode, creating an unnecessary cultural and social divide. It has a way of making one’s sexual attraction — which is but a small part of who we are as human beings — a bigger issue than it really should be.

This isn’t about whether one is same-sex attracted or heterosexual — it is about equality. We are more than just the sum of our sexuality. Crying ‘bigot’ at any sign of unease by — mostly older — people does not help pave the way to acceptance.

It is time to accept that some people are quite simply resistant to change — and, unfortunately for some, that includes marriage equality. In saying that, this does not mean one should excuse harassment, violence, or the fight for equality, for that matter.

However, it does mean a shift in the way we pursue legislative equality is required.

It is my view that this would be best achieved by appealing to values everyone in society, irrespective of race, religion, age, sexual persuasion, etc agrees on — the importance of one’s human rights and freedom. Violence towards LGBTQI people should be condemned in such a way, for example, to parents — how would you feel if it was your child who was being bullied, who feels worthless and like there is no way out but to take his/her own life. Marriage equality can be framed in a similar way.

We need to move the debate away from its current ‘identity’-inclined form which focuses on the things that divide us rather than what we as humans and as Australians have in common.

Only through such discourse which accepts everyone whether they be LGBTQI, straight, religious, non-religious, conservative or progressive can we achieve a positive outlook for LGBTQI persons in all aspects of their lives — not just marriage equality.

By CHRISTOPHER CHANCE

INFO: Christopher Chance is studying for a combined degree in Law and Psychology (Honours) at Sydney University.

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