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Yes Australia!
by Nikos Laios
2017-11-24 11:13:31
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On Wednesday 15th of November, the nationwide postal vote survey on the equality of same-sex marriage was received and counted, and the ‘YES’ vote has won over the ‘NO’ campaign by 61.6%, and where the whole exercise has been a great result for direct democracy. A vexatious social issue was put to the people to vote on, and it is now up to the parliament to enact into law the will of the people.

aust01_400_01One of the markers of a great society is its level of democracy, and where the implicit civil rights of the individual such as free speech, freedom of religion and belief, and the freedom of association are both protected and respected, as these are some of the most basic human rights that we are all entitled to enjoy. The more advanced a society becomes, the more advanced is the development and application of these basic human rights on a wide scale. However in the world today, nations are at differing levels of civilisational development, where the citizens of many nations at present are denied some of these basic fundamental human rights that we take for granted here in the West.

One could argue that the greatest quality of humanity is our ability to love, that we exist on this blue globe called Earth floating in the black nothingness of space is a miracle, that we are conscious of our own existence is a miracle, that we are born and live our lives with the ability to generate love and that we are the only spot in the whole universe where love exists is a miracle! So with this in mind, it is perplexing that societies on this planet deny people the right to symbolically express their love in a formal commitment acknowledged by their fellow citizens. Whilst I personally believe in the traditional definition that marriage is between a man and a woman, I also believe in giving fellow citizens the right to formally express their love via a same-sex non-religious civil marriage union if they so wish to, and here this writer is fully supportive of the ‘YES’ campaign, as are many of my fellow citizens in Australia.

As important as the freedom of marriage is, so is the freedom of religion and religious beliefs, parental rights and freedom of speech and to not respect all these other rights equally here one would be disingenuous. The Australian Parliament will need to also consider these other rights when formally enacting into law the equality of same-sex marriage, with one right not overriding the other in importance. So here an amendment to the enactment of the equality of same-sex marriage into law by the protection of these other fundamental civil and human rights is required, and where I am positive that our politicians will all unite to ensure that this is done.

Australia by and large has mostly become an atheist society, where religion now is either ridiculed or mocked quite regularly. A scan of social media in Australia finds many many very derisive comments by people in favour of  the ‘YES’ campaign, against religion and people’s right to religion with such comments as: “ pissed off bigoted redneck homophobes”, “religious nut jobs”, “filth”, etc. Here a lack of a long homogeneous cultural and spiritual tradition and sophistication in Australia - coupled with a crass shallow materialism and consumerism filling this empty void - is on the other hand quite telling to the existential and social life in Australia.

While the celebration continues in Australia by a large section of our society - and rightly so - at the progress made on such an important social issue as the equality of marriage; let us temper this celebration by also respecting the other equally important freedoms that we are all entitled to enjoy, and also those that have voted ‘NO.’ For being part of a democracy means that we respect each other’s choices of holding opposing views and opinions, and then in the end all unite for the common good.

Some nations around the world still forbid women the right to equality and expression, in some nations around the world it is actually illegal to be gay, but here in Australia we have pushed equality and freedom of all of its citizens with this ‘yes’ vote for marriage equality to another level; and I along with my fellow citizens will be rightly celebrating this progress of such an important fundamental civil and human right which is another step in promoting humanism, democracy and the freedom of the individual.

Whilst I might happily enjoy the benefits of being a member of the local Greek Orthodox community here in Sydney, I am also a writer, an artist and a humanist and equally a part of those communities as well. Today I celebrate joyously along with my fellow progressive Australians the freedom that we are about to give to so many gay people in this country to formally express and acknowledge their love in our society. So let’s celebrate and rise up our Champagne and beer glasses at this victory of human progress, and shout ‘YES Australia!’


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