An Open Letter to Julia Gillard

pic by Bixentro

To my dear PM,

Tonight, while trying to find some same sex couples for an event I was messaged by one young Australian. I’ll call him Daniel (which is not his real name).

He said “I’d like to help”.

I looked on his Facebook page and discovered, today, he had started cutting himself.

The reason? Both his state (NSW) and his country will not acknowledge his relationship with the respect he believes it deserves.

This was very new for me. It was very confronting. And you need to understand, while I’m doing my best to progress the marriage equality debate, I’m not a political being with experience in this. I haven’t achieved ambivalence to the humanity involved. I am just a motivated suburbanite, now being witness to the cost of this particular political football.

I have referred him to counselling services but I lack confidence he will seek it out.

I just ask this of you: while you take photo opportunities with fresh faced young Australians imagine where some of them, statistically, will end up considering the course that you have now set for them.

Not just the heterosexuals. The GLBTI ones too.

Some, like me, will lead relatively productive, happy suburban lives in the image of the life of his parents, wanting to be married, on record in a foreign country as being so, and resolving to struggle against the institutions that believe certain traditions relating to marriage, that being segregation, marginalisation and judgement, should be, inhumanely, maintained.

Some, like Daniel, will be cutting themselves or worse. Feeling completely disempowered to do anything else but threaten self harm until either their dignity is restored or they are physically destroyed.

You have the ability of enabling the best path for all Australians, equally. But you do not and I don’t understand.

Because it’s a hot topic I read news articles on marriage equality and Australia’s gay population often. Typically I venture further south to the comments.

I’d suggest you take a moment to do the same.

While your respectful assertion on our society’s traditions were not meant to disparage some Australians based on their sexual orientation the folk that you are choosing to elevate afford no such courtesy.

By reading these comments you’ll see you are only empowering people who hate gay people. Not people who love traditional marriage. The people that you have energised against my community are those that think we should have no claim to an unfettered existence. They maintain a comfortable ignorance and hold Australians like me in contempt. They don’t want to keep marriage traditional. They are motivated to denigrate gay people as being inferior and enforce stigma, shame and isolation upon otherwise equal Australians.

Understand the negative impact that your firm resolve is causing and, please, ask yourself why?

Like many Australians it’s impossible to fathom why you choose to empower and perpetuate this vitriolic hate.

You could be establishing a new level of dignity already achieved and in progress in other countries. You could remove any possible separation between the social structures available to you and the inimitable Penny Wong.

Our nation could be truly inclusive.

Please consider reviewing your stance on the issue and reflect on the social and personal consequences of maintaining the status quo. No other leader of an allied nation now sees the purpose of prejudice.

Please consider engaging in the issue in a way that celebrates the strengths of committed GLBTI relationships and disempowers those who you empower.

Please tell Daniel that his relationship is just as valid, just as sacred as any other and consider telling him that it should be within all Australians’ power to shape their own relationships and their lives.

You could tell Daniel and so many other Australian families that it’s the Federal Government’s role to seek ways to improve inclusion, health and wellbeing of all citizens. ALL of it’s citizens.

You have the ability to help shape the lives of all Australians in a positive way. I would only wish that you could see that by removing the marginalising aspect of “traditional marriage” you will only build a stronger Australia.


Ivan Hinton
VP PFLAG Capital Region/ AME Spokesperson for ACT

About the author

Ivan first came to prominence as one of the organisers of Rainbows Over Margaret Court Arena. He went on to become one of the leading lights of Australian Marriage Equality, and the left to found just.equal. He works closely with Shelley Argent and Rodney Croome for equal marriage.