Volume 1, Issue 11 (Originally Published 14 May 2012)
One of the first things students at MLS learn is that Australia is the only OECD country without a Bill of Rights. Related to this inglorious distinction is our increasing marginalisation of the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
US President Obama made international headlines this week by stating his personal support of same-sex marriage. President Obama’s public announcement was all the more principled and brave in that it came just one day after a referendum in North Carolina, a swing state, approved a ban on same-sex unions of any kind in the state’s constitution. As De Minimis readers are aware, the president is up for re-election less than six months from now, with the Republican Party sure to use his statement as ammunition in the culture wars that dominate the American political scene.
The legalisation of gay marriage was a plank in the winning electoral platform of French President-elect François Hollande and the necessary legislation should go through within 12 months.
On the other side of the world, New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, of the centre-right National Party, piped up that he was not opposed to same-sexmarriage.
And in Australia, Julia Gillard announced that she was opposed, always had been and always would be.
Mmong UK political figures, David Cameron and Tony Blair support gay marriage, in Cameron’s case, ‘because I’m a Conservative’. They live on a continent where the issue is no longer particularly controversial. The Netherlands was the first jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001. It was swiftly followed by Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Iceland.
In North America, Canada legalised gay marriage in 2005. Six U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow it. In Mexico, gay marriage is recognised nationally, though weddings are only performed in Mexico City.
In the Southern hemisphere, Argentina and South Africa allow gay marriage, as does one Brazilian state, Alagoas. Civil unions conferring exactly the same rights as marriage are legal for same-sex couples throughout Brazil.
The prospects in Australia are grim. Gillard might be on her ninth political life, but possibly the only political figure more opposed to gay marriage is the one poised to become PM, Tony Abbott. With such reactionary views on the part of its political leadership, Australia might get around to legalising gay marriage some time in the next century, long after it has been endorsed by the Holy See, Saudi Arabia, and Swaziland.