• A rainbow footpath painted at the busy intersection of Gertrude and Smith Streets in Melbourne, 2014 (AAP)Source: AAP
The challenge of resisting against heterosexual "normality" and white institutions, but fighting for inclusion. Nayuka Gorrie urges support for LGBTIQA+ people in our communities during this time.
Nayuka Gorrie

12 Aug 2017 - 4:15 PM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2017 - 4:28 PM

What a great couple of weeks to be black and queer in Australia.

At this point you’ve probably seen a thing or two about marriage equality pop-up on your newsfeed. Right now my whole social media is saturated with it. It might seem a bit complicated so here's a bit of a rundown of where things are at:

  1. A vote was held in Parliament on whether a plebiscite should go ahead in regards to same-sex marriage. The vote was unsuccessful, so a postal survey will be held instead. 

  2. Two legal challenges have been lodged to the High Court against the Government's postal plebiscite and will be heard just days before the survey content will be distributed. 
  3. If it goes ahead, postal survey will be received in the mail of Australian residents by 12 September 2017. This vote is non-binding.

  4. If people are in favour, there will be a vote in Parliament.

The survey will cost $122 Million. Considering a vote in Parliament is free, many people think this to be an expensive exercise that could very well be avoided. Much like black affairs in this country, the Government has continuously delayed action on matters.

For blackfullas, this postal survey has a few things that affect how we are involved. In many areas, as Senator Malarndirri Mccarthy has pointed out, mob don’t have access to postal services. Secondly, you have to be enrolled to vote. There are many reasons why people cannot - or do not - vote. Illiteracy, no fixed address, living remotely or in isolated areas are just some significant barriers, as well as many of us don't vote for political/sovereignty reasons. However, for those who do wish to participate in the non-binding survey you have 11 days to enrol or update your details. You can do this at the Australian Electoral Commission siteIt's worth noting that once you are enrolled to vote you can be fined for not voting in the future. 

To me, marriage for the queers is sort of like what constitutional recognition is for the blacks.

I’m going to put my bias upfront; to me, marriage for the queers is sort of like what constitutional recognition is for the blacks. Marriage to me is striving to live lives that resemble heterosexual “normality” just as assimilation is striving to whiteness. Neither represent liberation.

For some gay people - namely white gay people - this might be the last big hurdle to climb. For many others such as gay Indigenous people, gay culturally and linguistically diverse people, transpeople and particularly, trans women of colour, there are many other barriers which do not get nearly the same attention by the movement. Having basic access to appropriate health services, substantial funding for Indigenous LGBTIQA+ services and ensuring the safe schools coalition keeps our young ones safe in the school community are everyday challenges for non-white queer Australians.    

There is nothing horrible in this country that wasn't done to blackfullas first. Blackfullas are no strangers to having marriage controlled by state. Our pre-invasion marriage was essentially destroyed by missionaries and the State, and the white marriage that was introduced has traditionally been a tool for patriarchy; a means to control women. That being said, today, it is a right afforded to only some in this country and while it exists, it does so at the exclusion of others. It currently stands a discriminatory institution.

As blackfullas we are no strangers to having our identities dragged through the mud by bigots. We are no strangers to the hatred this country can harbour.

Given that this postal survey will not actually be a binding vote, it will not be subject to the same legislation as elections. What will happen instead is that malicious materials will be allowed to be circulated about members of LGBTIQA+ community (I can't wait to read all about how gross my relationship is). We are going to see Liberals and hateful extremists groups do their best to make sure this doesn’t go ahead. They are going to make us feel like we are inherently evil or lesser humans. They are going to try and convince our young people that there is something wrong with them. They are going to try and make us hate members of our own community.

As blackfullas we are no strangers to having our identities dragged through the mud by bigots. We are no strangers to the hatred this country can harbour. Therefore, I invite members of my black community to consider how hard being black and queer is right now, and to stand by us during this period. Black, queer people are in all of our communities and our communities are better off for us existing. Stand by us.


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