Same-sex marriage has been legalized in nearly 22 countries and it seems like it will be further accepted in the eyes of governments and societies as time goes on. While many other countries are becoming acclimated to gay marriage more rapidly, Australia is addressing this subject at a slower pace with much more headwinds in the form of social conflict. As of the time of this writing, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory there is “legal recognition” of same-sex relationships. While the Australian government does acknowledge these relationships, the union of marriage is not yet legal in Australia.
In previous years, bills recognizing same-sex marriage have been presented to Parliament but were never passed. Due to the failure of the bills not being passed, Parliament has taken various “opinion polls” to monitor how Australian citizens feel about same-sex marriage. A poll conducted a few years ago found that over half of voters said that “same-sex marriage was not important at all” .
For most of the voting processes in Australia, every citizen is required to participate and if they do not they are fined; however, since the legalization of same-sex marriage is currently just a poll, people are not as inclined to cast their vote. Presently, there is an opinion poll being offered once again to see where the citizens of Australia stand. It is hoped by many Australians that the results of this poll will have increased somewhat since the last one a few years back and that more people will vote. Even if an immense percentage of individuals vote yes to the bill, the final decision is ultimately up to Parliament and may not be passed once again–which has been the recurring problem in the past.
Similarly to in the U.S., it has been found that in Australia, a large percentage of those who oppose this law are individuals from older generations. Some of these individuals are not as likely to accept the new norms of modern society, because they may go against the norms of the older generation–it is almost as though it is the past versus the present. Due to this statistic, a majority of the advertisements/campaigns that encourage people to vote are directed towards those within younger generations. At the University of Newcastle in Australia, students received emails reminding them to participate in this poll and fliers were posted all around the campus. The University even held a pride festival to educate students on the details of the same-sex marriage law and motivate them to vote. It is the younger generations that are making a voice for themselves and valiantly guiding the way for same-sex marriage to be legalized in Australia.
In the following weeks the results of the poll and the Australian Parliament’s decision will be released. If this law is not approved, unfortunately, Australia will remain in the past and behind the current times with regards to progressive policies. Furthermore, the tensions and social unrest regarding this important subject are expected to increase. As previously stated, same-sex marriage has been made legal in over twenty countries and could be made legal in Australia. The passing of this law would allow for anyone to love whomever they choose and be able to make their love governmentally legitimate.