By Jonathon Davidson
The announcement that Australia’s marriage equality plebiscite will not go ahead as planned has been warmly welcomed by Perth-based LGBTI interest and advocacy groups.
Fears surrounding the potential outcome of a “no” campaign for LGBTI communities across Australia have already been well realised by some in Perth.
Graeme Watson, Deputy Editor of Out in Perth magazine says in the last three months, abusive phone calls to the office have risen dramatically.
“It [has] brought out a corrosive element on both sides of the debate,” he said.
“[We’ve had] death threats to people – interestingly, they weren’t against us, but against people in the Christian lobby for not being Christian enough.”
“It was quite a dramatic increase in those sort of abusive calls and comments, and that’s before the plebiscite even started,” Graeme said.
A recent Buzzfeed Australia article claims to possess photographic evidence that the plebiscite had become a common topic in calls received by the National Suicide Hotline, but legitimacy of the photograph is unverified.
Nick Lawrence, Managing Director of Transmen WA, says the risks attached to a marriage equality plebiscite are exacerbated for trans individuals in Australia.
“A lot of the talk about marriage equality isn’t recognising transgender people and their need to get divorced to have their gender changed.”
Nick says that trans identities are frequently absent from public coverage on homosexual current affairs, and that the negative impact on trans youth has been directly observable.
“Specifically in the 15 to 25 age group where they’re still pretty young … this stuff is all over Facebook and they can’t get away from it,” he said.
“Even in their safe spaces when they come to meet up with other people they’re still struggling.”
Both Graeme and Nick believe that existing frustrations with the equal marriage debate shared by LGBTI groups in Australia continue to threaten meaningful action.
“We’ve already had this discussion, close to 75% of people in Australia support marriage equality,” Graeme said.
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