Brandis Hardens His Heart

The Attorney General’s office is getting tetchy. The LGBTI community’s continued refusal to wholeheartedly embrace the notion that the rest of Australia should have a vote on our full and equal Australian citizenship annoys him. In retaliation he has been putting it about that he will entertain no deviation from his chosen road and it’s destination, a plebiscite. Nor will he help soften its impact.

The man himself has been out and about, stating flatly that a plebiscite is the only path to same sex marriage, take it or leave it. The same line is being sold by Tim Wilson, most recently in a Sky interview with Patricia Karvelas, and by gay LNP supporters on social media. One sample:

“It’s time to accept a plebiscite and move on from a vote in federal parliament for same-sex marriage. We now must place our energy on YES.
YES, we can convince our friends, peers, colleagues and families to vote yes to the same freedoms that they all have. Start the conversation with your friends and family and ask them to support a YES vote.
We cannot lose time arguing over the right path forward. Unite behind YES and ask all Australians for Equality.”

For some reason they are losing patience and trying to stampede us into buying what they are selling, but like a Soviet era department store, they have only the one product in stock. And you have to buy it sight unseen.

Meanwhile PFLAG and just.equal are in the midst of a major survey to discover what the LGBTI community wants:
  • to continue to try to block the plebiscite,
  • throw in the towel and start campaigning for a win, or
  • some hybrid of the two.

They won’t be stampeded into a decision until a they have a big enough sample, which may take a week or two.

Clearly no-one can get behind something which does not yet exist. Once the enabling bill has passed the Senate and become law, then we can decide. How soon that is, depends on the government. If they’re in a hurry they’d better get on with it, instead of trying to bully us. Till then we should stand firm.

For me, one of the most important unanswered questions is this. With Safe Schools gutted, and headspace likewise neutered, how will the government help us protect our vulnerable LGBTI youth? Answer: it won’t.

I would have thought that if the government wants the gay community to play ball on the plebiscite, they they would do well to adopt a less high-handed tone, show that they recognise the legitimate fears some people have, and move to address them. But no.

A Liberal strategist close to Brandis’ office told me that no such safeguards are being considered. There will be no change in the rhetoric, and no olive branches offered. After all, said the source, it’s not as if you lot ever vote for us anyway.

Well, if that’s your idea of persuasion, no.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)