In less than two weeks, we will find out the result of the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
To be clear, we never wanted one in the first place. Ticking a box with a half-broken pen to indicate whether or not you believe that some relationships are more equal than others doesn’t feel especially dignified.
On an otherwise nondescript Monday in August, 2004, then Prime Minister John Howard amended the Australian Marriage Act to exclude same-sex couples. I don’t recall being consulted, and neither did the hundreds of thousands of people who just had one of the most significant life decisions made for them.
In fact, we were barely even notified.
But, you see, in 2017, we do things differently. We spend $122 million in order to poll every Australian citizen over the age of 18 on whether one of our most oppressed and vulnerable minorities ought to be allowed to wear a band on their left ring finger.
This decision is not personal, we’re assured. It’s political. It’s about our national values. This issue is so complicated and threatening, that the government – our representatives – could not possibly make a decision of this magnitude on their own.
So we launched campaigns, we debated on The Project and the Today Show and Q&A. We talked and then yelled and talked again.
We obliged – because this was a matter of national importance.
We opened our letter boxes, muttering to ourselves that this whole thing was absurd, and in one swift motion we signalled a tick. Because, in 2017, this is how we do things.
But today I checked my letter box, and there was no postal survey on Manus Island.
The island directly North of Sydney, on the East of Papua New Guinea, has housed an offshore detention network since 2014. When someone arrived on our doorstep, having fled their homes, terrified of war, famine, trauma or persecution, we not only turned them away, we imprisoned them.
LISTEN: CEO and Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Kon Karapanagiotidis is an Australian to be proud of. Post continues below.
A report put together by the United Nations clearly states that Australia’s policy of offshore processing and prolonged detention is “immensely harmful”.
We are – as a nation – responsible for serious abuses of human rights and, as the UN concluded, violating the rights of asylum seekers to be free from torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.