The same sex marriage debate within ethnic communities

The same sex marriage debate within ethnic communities

SBS World News Radio: Proponents for and against same-sex marriage are bringing their arguments directly to ethnic communities.

In Canberra this week, a Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTIQ Australians launched language resources developed in consultation with some of the country's largest communities.

And the founder of a Chinese community lobby group says it has several hundred members who don't want to see changes to the Marriage Act.

Sydney G-P Pansy Lai says opposing marriage equality has become hazardous.

She's just formed the Australian Chinese for Families Association.

Dr Lai says she was forced to close down a website for her surgery after numerous reviews were posted online from "patients" she had never met, describing her as a homophobic doctor.

She believes many other Chinese-Australians also oppose changes to the Marriage Act, but expressing that opinion creates a backlash.

"It's not acceptable anymore to be talking about children needing their Mums and their Dads and things like people who have a personal conviction of believing in traditional families being the way to raise their children with the best outcome. Opinions like this are becoming unacceptable."

Dr Lai has vowed to continue her fight.

She says it started with a petition against Safe Schools - the controversial anti-bullying program for gay and transgender students.

"After we launched this petition, parents from other states got into contact with us. They are really concerned about the way things are currently in their states and I guess that's why we formed this organization because we want to give a voice to the Australian Chinese community who are concerned about parents' rights and freedom of speech being taken away. It's because we care about parents rights to teach our own children our family values and so we want the Chinese Australian families to be a voice for concerned Chinese Australians and a platform to share resources and do petitions like we have."

Australian tennis great Margaret Court has also argued that it's becoming difficult to express anti-marriage equality views.

The 74 year old made headlines when she wrote to Qantas saying she'd boycott the airline whenever possible because its support for same-sex marriage ran counter to her religious views.

LGBTIQ activists and prominent tennis players, including Andy Murray and Martina Navartilova called for Margaret Court's name to be removed from a stadium in Melbourne that's named in her honour.

Margaret Court told 2GB, the response amounted to bullying.

"I stand up for the Bible and I believe that I'm saying what I believe. That's the price you pay, isn't it and, you know, I think, I pray to God we do have free speech in our nation but it's always been very much their way and we've never been able to say anything because it's like we have been bullied and I think this last week I feel that I have been very bullied"

The multicultural co-ordinator of the Equality Campaign, Francis Voon, says it's important to appreciate there are diverse views on marriage equality within various communities.

But he says views are changing all over the world.

"We talk about multicultural communities and I think one of the fallacies as well has been 'oh you know the Asian community will never accept this well, you know, Taiwan has just legislated to allow marriage equality in Taiwan. Malta that's extremely Catholic and conservative is going the same way. There is no argument anymore from either a faith perspective or from a multicultural perspective because we look at the world, our neighbours and we say people trying to marry the person that they love in this country Australia that we love."

This week the Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTIQ Australians held a morning tea in Canberra to launch a series of multilingual resources for ethnic communities.

They were developed in consultation with various ethnic groups including Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek and Arabic-speaking communities.

Co-convenor of the friendship group, Greens Senator Janet Rice, believes there is strong support for marriage equality in many areas.

"There are still some small segments of our society that are not in support of marriage equality, usually because of their strong religious beliefs and that's fine. It's not going to be affecting them, no one is going to be making them marry somebody that they don't want to, but for the rest of society, who strongly support marriage equality, strongly support two people being able to get married, I think there is overwhelming support."





Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch