How To Slay The Plebiscite Dragon

dragonkill by Roxanne Ready

There’s a dragon stalking the G.A.Y* community, and it’s name is Plebiscite. We have already had a small taste of its vicious power: it will only get worse – unless we can slay the monster.

If, by some horrible mischance, the Coalition scrapes a win next week, they will try to hold a plebiscite to decide whether G.A.Y.* people are full human beings, with full human rights, or some sort of untermenschen who can legally be treated as inferiors. Any such plebiscite will lack all legitimacy.

No Mandate

Firstly, they will have no mandate, because they refuse to disclose the terms on which it will be held ahead of the election. If the full terms of the proposed plebiscite are not put before the voters this week, they cannot claim a mandate. Already, leaks from inside the Liberal party prove it’s being rigged.

No Legitimacy

Secondly, whether the terms are put before the voters or not, whether a ‘mandate’ is claimed or not, no such plebiscite has any legitimacy whatsoever.

Rights are called rights because you have them ‘as of right’. Rights, such as the right to marry, cannot be withheld merely because some people don’t like you and don’t want you to have them. My rights are not to be withheld on the basis of someone else’s opinion.

I repeat, any plebiscite on our right to marry, whenever held, whatever the terms, has no justification and no legitimacy, and we must do all we can to kill it. Keep reading for some suggestions how.

But what can I do?

Don’t worry if you’re not the sort of person who goes on demos or picket lines. Nor am I. Who isn’t nervous about bailing up your neighbours on the doorstep? Face to face meetings are usually the most effective way of getting your point across, but thanks to the interconnectedness of everything, you can have quite an impact just tapping at a keyboard.

Duty To Oppose

Because the plebiscite will have no mandate and no legitimacy, every citizen, G.A.Y* or not, has a democratic duty to oppose it by every peaceful means at their disposal: to do everything they can to ensure it can never take place. Or if it does, it is crippled beyond usefulness. The time to start this work is NOW. Everyone can lend a hand: repeat, you don’t have to join a demo or parade down a street.

  • Don’t vote for any party of MP who supports a plebiscite, and persuade all your contacts to do likewise
  • Start lobbying your co-workers, union reps and bosses to boycott the plebiscite, if it happens
  • Talk to your local churches, schools, the mayor, local councillors. Start preparing the ground.
  • Do not vote in the plebiscite, and encourage everyone you know not to vote. Drive the turnout as low as possible, to delegitimise it further

Members of Parliament

Do not support a plebiscite.

Trade Unions

If our MPs fail us, and a plebiscite is foisted on us, instruct your members not to co-operate in any way with the running of a plebiscite.

  • Don’t provide security at voting places.
  • Don’t transport, store, count or process ballot papers.
  • Don’t deliver ballot boxes or set up voting places.
  • Don’t produce polling material such as ballot papers, polling boxes, how to vote instructions, in any medium.

Schools, churches, local authorities

  • Refuse to allow any premises under your control to be used for voting, counting or storage.
  • If you are employed in any of these places and your superiors permit them to be used, picket them on voting day, asking people not to cast a vote.

State & local governments

  • Declare the plebiscite illegitimate and give no help or assistance directly or indirectly to its running.
  • Ban it from all your premises.
  • Provide no support staff or security.

Business owners

  • Media: do not accept any pro-plebiscite advertising or PR material in your papers, TV and radio stations and online channels.
  • Nothing on any of your land or premises or workplaces.
  • Decline contracts to provide security at polling places, or transport of ballot papers, any storage facilities, or any staff.
  • Refuse all contracts to design, develop, produce or deliver pro-plebiscite publicity materials, voting instructions, directions to polling places etc.

I hear that plans are being drawn up for a national organisation to co-ordinate the resistance to the plebiscite, since none of the existing ones appear to have the ticker for the job. I’ll keep you posted. But don’t wait for other people to do stuff for you: get on it yourself. Go out and be a dragon-killer. Now.


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)