With everything that is going on in America and the daily upheavals in the Trump administration, it's very easy for us as a nation to focus our eye westward when it comes to international politics. However, something altogether sinister is occurring in Australia right now - a country I was proud to call home for over a year and where I have immediate family and amazing friends residing now.
For those of you that don't know, same-sex marriage is not legal in Australia. I think even I was surprised that this was the case considering the enormity of Sydney Mardi Gras, the iconic gay films that were created there and the show business legends that are from there. Being gay has always been something I equated with being Australian, a country that was welcoming to the gay way of life and to its open and friendly people and culture.
Same-sex marriage in Australia has become one of their biggest political footballs in recent years. Whereas in the UK, marriage equality was pretty much forced through the House Of Commons when it became embarrassing and archaic for it not to be legal.
In Australia it has been put to a public postal vote, scheduled to happen on September the 12th which then has to pass through government. The problem with that is that there is now lobbying from various sides of the 'argument' which gets more bitter by the day. It is of course, not an 'argument' at all, it is a human right and for a country with such a rich gay culture and an outwardly benevolent and friendly people, it's beyond contempt that this debate has to rage at all.
Things now however have taken a turn for the worst. Politically mirroring the furore over Trump equating the neo-Nazis, KKK and white supremacists with those that stand against them, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that published campaign material 'will often say things that are hurtful and unfair and sometimes cruel' and that it was part of the democratic process.
The 'material' he is referring to is a poster campaign that has gone up in Melbourne depicting two faceless men brandishing rainbow belts at a cowering child with the 'facts' that 92% of children raised by gay parents are abused, 51% are depressed and 72% are obese. These were distributed by a neo-Nazi group called ironmarch.org and the fact that the Prime Minister, while condemning them as 'hurtful', sees them as free speech and a valid part of the debate is highly disturbing.
Leaflets put through the letterboxes of people's homes in Sydney declared 'Homosexuality is a curse of death in terminating the family line' whilst going on to scaremonger about transgender women being allowed to use public bathrooms in terms I won't even dignify here by repeating.
Clearly Malcolm Turnbull doesn't have any first-hand experience of knowing or caring about a gay person, let alone being one. Every single Australian I know, gay or otherwise, that already felt let down by its government, now feels like they actually don't care at all. Say what you will about the state of the British government, those posters and leaflets would be classed as 'inciting hatred' and would be illegal.
I feel protected by the laws of this country regarding homophobia and know that even the slightest accusation would be met with a fierce response from the police. In Australia the gay community who give so much to the great nation are being hung out to dry. When this sort of divisive, disgraceful and disgusting propaganda can be dismissed by the Prime Minister himself as 'hurtful' then who do they have to turn to when someone abuses them verbally or physically? Is that just someone 'having their say'?
This comes a week after the appalling behaviour of Pauline Hanson, a senator and full time air horn with a love for the sound of her own voice. She dressed in a full burka into the senate to 'make a point' only to be derided by other politicians. Insulting Muslims is de rigueur with her but this was in the actual senate and she should be removed with immediate effect.
When you are an older white person in power it seems to give you the right to speak about the lives of other people almost exclusively less well-off than you and who need love and support, not hatred and bigotry.
This poster campaign hopefully will become a call to arms, and anyone who was voting against same-sex marriage can see what sort of darkness they are siding with.