Mardi Gras is on tonight – the first since marriage equality became a reality in Australia. Long-time campaigner Wing Hong Chu shares his thoughts, excitement for the future, and determination to keep fighting for equality everywhere.
It still feels so elusively dreamesque that marriage equality has, in fact, been actualized in Australia.
A little less than a year ago, my queer, gender non-binary friends and I were still busy running around, collecting signatures for Amnesty International Australia’s petition on marriage equality.
As the Queer Amnesty International Adelaide Action Group, we would attend community events tirelessly on weekends, engaging in contentious discussions with community members of different political persuasions about the legalisation of same sex marriage, its various benefits and how it would help to improve the mental health of queer young Australians and reduce suicide rates much like it has in the U.S.
Given the damaging impact of inequality on mental and psychological health, even the Australian Medical Association has shown its solidarity for marriage equality along with numerous other Australian corporations and non-profit organisations.
We were adamant that our activism for queer rights would help to gather the momentum needed for fair and just legislation which not only legalizes same sex marriage, but also protects same sex couples from any other forms of discrimination.
Our efforts, along with those of many others in our community, eventually led to a legally non-binding postal plebiscite with a collateral damage of $122 million taxpayer dollars, which may not have been the most cost-effective or the most ideal resolution. Nonetheless, by 61.6%, the majority of Australians were on the side of fairness and voted in favour of love, which we all celebrated as a momentous joy.
Thanks to everyone who had voted ‘Yes’, marriage equality is now a part of Australian law and I am completely in awe of the way in which the collective social consciousness in everyday Australians has helped to bring equality into reality. This is truly a historic and impressive achievement for Australia.
To celebrate the recent success of our marriage equality campaign, Amnesty International Australia has given two interstate queer rights activists the opportunity to attend this year’s Mardi Gras and I have been incredibly blessed to be selected as one of them.
Although marriage equality is a blissful victory for the local Australian queer community, there are still so many brave individuals who are facing brutal prosecution and vile, senseless violence for speaking out and defending against injustices inflicted on queer communities in other parts of the world. For those reasons it is vital that we, as activists, continue our support for human rights until equality has been achieved by all.
I cannot wait to celebrate our wins together with LGBTQI community and fellow amnesty activists from around the country and am so thankful for the opportunity!
Whilst it is a time to celebrate, we should spare a thought for those still struggling for equality. Amnesty is campaigning for the BRAVE this year, including those like Trans activist Sakris Kupila who is standing up for Trans Rights in his native Finland, despite continued threats and hostility.
We continue to stand with Sakris and others like him across the world who are brave enough to demand equality under the law.
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