A Galaxy poll, published in August, revealed that 62% of people support changes to the Marriage Act – which currently defines marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others”. Despite overwhelming support from ordinary people to reform the Act, both the major parties continue to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people their right to marry, along with other basic rights.
On September 19, the Federal Senate, by a vote of 41-26, voted against a private member’s bill which would have, if passed, allowed same-sex couples to marry. Also in September a Tasmanian bill to legalise same-sex marriage was defeated in the Upper House.
These examples demonstrate that public opinion is not enough. The continuation of discrimination on the basis of sexuality needs to be opposed by mobilising people into action. The biggest gains for LGBTI people have been won through mass action and boldly demanding full equality. This fight cannot be won by lobbying corporate politicians and preaching patience in the face of open discrimination.
The struggle should also not be contained simply to marriage rights. The fight for equal rights needs to be linked to a struggle to transform the economic and social conditions faced by many in the LGBTI community, including fighting for greater resources for LGBTI youth and guaranteed jobs, income and housing for all.
That is why the Socialist Party fights for an end to all types of discrimination. We support full rights for LGBTI people and the recognition of same sex domestic partnerships and marriages on an equal level with heterosexual couples. We call for an end to homophobic bullying in schools and in workplaces.
All schools must include homophobia in their anti-bullying policies, and teachers should receive training and support at a local and national level on handling homophobic bullying and LGBTI issues in the classroom. Workplaces must have strong and clear anti-discrimination legislation regulated and implemented by workers and unions.
But as long as we live under capitalism – a system that is based on dividing and conquering working people along lines like race, gender, and sexual orientation – we will always be fighting an uphill battle. This is why the Socialist Party links the fight for LGBTI rights to the fight for a democratic socialist society based on collective ownership and decision making from below. In a socialist society the world’s resources would be used for the benefit of all, undermining the basis for division amongst people of differing sexualities and identities.
By Conor Flynn