As a straight Asian woman I chose who I wanted to love and I chose to get married to the person I love, without a Government or outsiders telling me whether I can or cannot due to “religion” or the “populous view” that my love is not accepted by society. My personal life isn’t put up for contention or is being questioned for its validity under the eyes of the law. I get to choose because I have the freedoms and liberty to do so. But because my choices fall into what general society sees as “acceptable” I am left to my own devices.
However, this is not the case for many others, and this includes our fellow Asians. Now you may be wondering why I am discussing this as my weekly topic, and why now? Well some of you may or may not know that in Australia the debate over marriage equality is still up in the air with no binding decision in sight. Currently, it is the main headline topic with the Australian Government ( a very conservative and bigoted one) choosing to have hold a plebiscite ( direct vote of all the members of an electorate/district on an important public question) and this plebiscite has been reduced to a postal vote and one which will be voluntary. The postal vote was just confirmed a few days back with the postal ballots occurring by November 22nd this year. It will also cost Australian taxpayers $122 million to hold a non binding postal vote on this matter.
There are currently court challenges being lodged against this method, but chances are the Government will get its way. Now I do not want to spend my entire piece talking about the facts of this vote, so I will end the fact chatting here. What I will use this piece to do is make a personal plea to all Asians everywhere ( particularly Asian Australians) to please take this issue seriously and to vote and make a decision based on unbiased information.
I have spoken to many people close to me who are Asian Australian and who identify as LGBTIQ. Many work in the area or are extremely politically engaged. Just over the last few days I have heard many heartbreaking stories from them as well as about other Asian Australian gay and lesbian men and women. I have had conversations which have made me teary and almost depressed, just knowing that they are emotionally drained, and disappointed that their love, and their choices to be with the person (s) they love is now reduced to a postal vote. This means that the entire process becomes impersonal and making an issue which should be treated as a human right into something which is insignificant and fickle. In addition my Asian Australian LGBTIQ brothers, sisters and siblings are exactly like me – subjected to racism based on the colour of our skin and the way we look in Australia, but they also get a double dose of discrimination with identifying as LGBTIQ and now in the eyes of the court of public opinion are being judged, court martialed and treated as different.
To make matters worse, our own broader Asian Australian community has been no help in this issue. There are currently a minority of loud dissenting voices coming from the Chinese Christian conservative communities, who have so much internalised self hatred that they are unknowingly or knowingly persecuting their own. I have heard some horror stories of groups and individuals in Australia who identify as “Christian” sending death and rape threats to others who identify as LGBTIQ, and I think to myself, how is this Christian or even human and ethical? And how is this acceptable? Why is it that those dissenting Asian Australian voices are so loud, but the others who may be sitting on the fence are silent and MIA? Do they not realise that this directly impacts on our own Asian Australians? Do they not care? Or are they too scared to push the mould and to come out as a strong voice for the community. In my opinion we as Asians and as Asian Australians need to be accountable and a lot more inclusive. We forget our own are impacted and that this impact affects us all. This I think needs to change, and it is this that most disappoints and frustrates me.
As for me? Well I will be doing my part for all my LGBTIQ Asian brothers, sisters, siblings and beyond by voting YES when the ballots are out and continue to educate, inform and be a strong voice in this area. I had the liberties to marry who I wanted, so why can’t others? Our personal lives should never be questioned because that is the part which makes us whole and fulfilled. I will leave my pleas here, but I hope all of you will read this and see how marriage equality affects us all. Remember, there are countries in our Asian region who are waking up with a few (such as Taiwan) in the process legalising it. So why is it that a Western country such as Australia and one which prides on its diversity, opportunities and cultural acceptances are making it almost impossible for marriage equality to happen.