It’s that time of year again. Time to do your last minute Christmas shopping, time to listen to your favourite Christmas songs (Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You on repeat), time to head to the beach, and time to read your racist distant relatives claim on Facebook that they are banned from saying "Merry Christmas" because of Islam. But happily, it’s also time for another yearly tradition; reading end-of-year lists and remembering all the moments we got to witness in the past 12 months. Often these lists are inspiring and uplifting, designed to send us into the next year on a high. But it’s also important to remember those moments that confused or bamboozled us, as we hope that we see less of them in the next year.
The Rise of Anti-Equality Ads
You are watching television when suddenly an ad for a delicious looking pizza comes on. You are hungry, and it entices you by reminding you that pizza exists. So, you order pizza. The system works. In March, the Australian Marriage Forum tried to use this method of advertising to convince viewers to denounce support for marriage equality.
The group also raised the ire of Julia Gillard after using a statement she made regarding the stolen generation in a print ad, in order to make an anti-equality argument.
They weren’t the only ones running ads this year, with a group called Marriage Alliance coming under fire for an ad that ran on Foxtel, depicting marriage equality as the tip of an iceberg that is hiding deeper worries below the surface, including concern for children, and the prospect of broader sex-ed classes in schools. However, as we’ve seen from places that have had marriage equality for a long time, the tip of the iceberg is same-sex couples getting married, and under the surface… is same-sex couples getting married.
Abbott, the diplomat
In a strange occurrence in May, Australia’s ambassador to France Stephen Brady greeted former Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the tarmac in Paris and then offered his resignation soon after (it was not accepted). The attempted resignation was tendered after Abbott’s travelling party informed Brady’s male partner of 34 years that he should not take part in the greeting. It is still unclear if the incident was due to a miscommunication with a staff member or if it is in line with traditional procedure, but it was immediately assumed by many to be due to the fact that the couple consisted of two men.
2015 was the year that people found colours to be frightening, especially if they appeared in the form of a flag or glitter. Adelaide’s State Parliament was presented with a petition by Liberal MP Michael Pengilly, in which more than 100 people had signed their support to ban the flying of rainbow flags on government buildings. No word yet if they plan to submit a petition asking the government to ban literal rainbows from appearing in the sky.
MP Craig Laundy had a tough year, posting an angry Facebook screed after receiving a package of glitter in the post from marriage equality activists at GetUp! Unlike the many, many other MPs' offices that received the package without any issue, 13 emergency vehicles were dispatched to Laundy’s office to deal with the sparkly stuff. It can be hard to get out of carpet, but I am not sure the emergency services can help with that.
Piers v Gayby Babies
Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman this year claimed that parents at Burwood Girls High School were outraged at the screening of Gayby Baby, a lauded documentary about children of same-sex families. The claim was quickly refuted, with a reported huge zero number of complaints actually appearing to be made. Unwilling to stop there, Akerman also used the column to address one of the girls from the film, advising her that she was not in a “normal” family.
Even with the baseless claims, the NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli moved to instruct schools not to show the film during class time. Congratulations to Mr Akerman for his victory over a bunch of children, can’t wait to see what you do in 2016.
Coalition Status Quo
2015 saw the legalisation of same-sex marriage in places like Ireland, and nationwide in the United States. In Australia, 2015 saw a six-hour party room debate by the Coalition partyroom to decide if members would get a free vote on the issue in Parliament. The outcome was no outcome at all, the status quo to be retained, hope extinguished. When Tony Abbott was dumped as prime minister, many hoped that Malcolm Turnbull would act to pass legislation before the next election. Instead, Turnbull has committed to a plebiscite, meaning that same sex-attracted Australians will be forced to endure at least another year of anti-equality arguments, and then a public vote on our rights.