The news from Indonesia gave me a jolt. We, a nation that routinely legislates against human rights, have “serious concerns” about another nation’s violations. While we do not condemn SSM with a cane, we do so with a fountain pen.
In a world that, as of late, seems increasingly defined by the atrocities we commit upon our fellow man, it is comforting to know that there is still room for good.
Taiwan’s supreme court has this week ruled that excluding same sex couples from the right to marry is unconstitutional, and has told the parliament – which has already proudly indicated their keenness to legislate for marriage equality – they have two years to make the change happen.
Failing this, same sex couples will be given the legal right to wed by default.
This, along with echoes of government MPs – not least of which, the Deputy Prime Minister – waxing about how righting a legislative wrong in our secular nation would be seen as “decadent” by our Asian neighbours, has made more than a few people frustrated by the snail’s pace at which Australia’s own marriage equality has advanced.
Frustration that is further exacerbated by the spineless ghost of the government’s plebiscite still casting itself on even this year’s supposed wonder budget.
The same plebiscite that has been soundly defeated by a parliament, and despised by a people, who just want our leaders to do their jobs and get on with passing legislation, just as they would for any other issue.
Alas, as it stands, it seems Australia will remain the redneck, backwards-looking cousin of the English-speaking family, until we see a change in government, at the earliest.
Worse still, the current homunculi that govern over us are so committed to doing absolutely nothing in the face of long overdue human rights action, that the mere prospect of community or business support for change frightens the proverbial pants off of them.
Take the protracted ranting of ministers decrying business leaders having the audacity to stand up for their employees, or the condemnation of communities applying pressure on the people who say they represent them.
Better still, take the senile ravings of government MPs furious with members opposite flying the flag of a “gay and lesbian kingdom” in their offices, in spite of that same kingdom having declared war on our peaceful (cough) nation.
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If that isn’t enough to get your progressive blood boiling, the fact that even an ice cream company now feels it needs to intervene in a dramatic and public way for change to finally be achieved, should be enough for you to realise the country we love really does not love us back.
Yes, Ben & Jerry’s has taken evasive action, banning the ordering of two scoops of the same flavour in protest of government filibustering on marriage equality.
Maybe, just maybe, the ridiculousness of it all will at long last hit home for members of our government, who surely by now realise that delaying marriage equality is akin to consigning their administration to the electoral gallows come election time.
I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Perhaps with all of this in mind – along with the small issue of government-sponsored indefinite detention of men, women and children alike in offshore hell holes – you can see why I find it hard to take serious claims of the Coalition having “serious concerns” about Indonesia’s treatment of the LGBTI community.
The same Coalition government that gave passionate defences of the “right to be a bigot”, that has tried to force millions of Australians to justify their existence in a public vote, and tried to give the church free license on discrimination should their interpretation of equality be passed, now seeks to grand stand and take a “holier than thou” approach to our closest neighbour.
It’s important to speak out against injustice, no matter where in the world, but it is difficult to take serious any supposed concern or outrage, as those same leaders continue to excuse their own inaction on human rights violations.
What is happening in Aceh, Indonesia, is revolting, yes.
The fact that any nation could sentence someone to over 80 cane lashes, in this day and age, in the face of universal psychological, biological, and scientific understanding that being born gay is, shock horror, natural; is gut-retchingly disgusting.
No amount of religious scripture can excuse this kind of horrific violation of human decency, and this is not something worthy of being debated, in any length.
But when our beloved foreign minister responds by lecturing Indonesia on how they should “reject discrimination”, any genuine attempts at progress are buried under layer upon layer of hypocrisy.
“The foreign minister has raised with the Indonesian government Australia’s serious concerns about the caning of two gay men under Sharia Law in Indonesia’s Aceh province,” Julie Bishop’s office said in a statement.
“Earlier this month, the Australian government recommended that Indonesia reject discrimination on any grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity during Indonesia’s UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review.”
You know, that same discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity that the party Bishop (almost) leads seems to pride itself on.
Just like how that same party routinely tells the UN to suck a lemon, as it introduces harsher and harsher laws to punish those held in indefinite purgatory outside of our borders.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for our nation and its leaders to speak out against injustice, no matter where in the world that injustice may be.
But it is very difficult to take serious any supposed concern or outrage, as those same leaders continue to excuse their own inaction on human rights violations.
Until the day our government stops its hopeless obfuscation of legislative reform, our leaders will seem as hot air filled as they are spineless.