Debunking the Boycott
This postal vote sucks, but we may as well make it count.
Let’s start with what we can all agree on- this postal plebiscite business is merely a thinly veiled attempt at filibustering by the Australian government. No election promise has ever been so steadfastly fought for since Howard’s Work Dismissal laws, which played a significant role in the demise of the Howard government. ABC’s Lateline host Emma Alberici ever so eloquently put it to a stammering Mathias Cormann that the Turnbull government has failed to uphold a number of election promises, including but not limited to health and education, new new taxes, no cuts to the ABC, and Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme. There has been no whisper of a plebiscite for major topics like euthanasia and abortion, either. Cormann’s borderline non sequitur rattling off of scripted party lines in response was but one example of the shambles that is this government's handling of the marriage equality debate.
In response, many marriage equality advocates have now called for a boycott of the postal vote, sparking an insurgence of debate around the efficacy of doing so. So, let’s talk. Would the boycott achieve anything?
Simply put, if the boycott is successful, it would send a strong message of unity to our government, that we see through them, that we won’t blindly participate in this farce, and it might get the legislation through.
Ideologically, it’s reprehensible to vote on a human rights issue. And the implementing of a vote on LGBTQI+ rights is downright homophobic.
The Turnbull government can’t confirm that they will vote in parliament even if the postal vote returns a Yes verdict. Additionally, if they were to take a parliamentary vote, they’ve also not confirmed that the vote will be on Dean Smith’s bill. Therefore, this whole postal vote ordeal could end us up with some shonky bit of legislation that doesn’t give us equality. It might be better to wait for the next government changeover, and do it properly.
The postal vote barely holds up, legally. We’re yet to see if the High Court rules it legal, but if it does, it’ll be by a hair. By participating in the vote, we are contributing to a dangerous precedent where the human rights of other marginalised groups could be abused, too.
A professional mock-up of what the vote counting might look like
A boycott is essentially a No vote. The magnitude of coverage this postal vote has accumulated has ensured that a large portion of the Australian public is going to vote on it. The call to boycott isn’t going to reach everyone, nor is it going to convince everyone. So, realistically, a boycott would simply remove a chunk (not all) of the supporting votes, and skew the scope of Australia’s opinion towards No. Just think for a moment of the smug satisfaction of those homophobic MPs when they see those results. Skin crawling? Good. That needs to NOT happen.
Marriage equality being a ‘hot topic’ has spiked homophobia around the country. Homophobes are targeting vulnerable minors on social media, and defacing LGBTQI+ property in public spaces. and it feels wrong to give publicity to the antagonisers who partake in these acts, so we won’t go into detail here. It takes only a simple Google search to see what they’ve been up to. This is damaging us, and we need to pass this vote and get out of the spotlight sooner rather than later.
A resounding Yes vote gives us unmarred traction in our cause. Even if the government, again, tries to stall the marriage equality legislation, they’ll have little to stand on when, in a government funded national survey, the public want a change in the legislation. The fact that it’s voluntary will only enforce the fact that this is significant. This is an issue people bothered to get out of bed and vote for. With a Yes vote behind us, we will have that much more power to push for our rights.
We reached out to a couple of loud voices for the Queer community. Here’s what they had to say:
“Our rights should not be up for debate and voted on by the general public, it is really damaging and divisive and is directly harmful to LGBTIQ people. However I do think that if it does go to a postal plebiscite vote we all need to vote and have our voices and our allies voices heard.”
Jax Jacki Brown, Disability and Queer Rights Activist
“Practically this is unfair, unbinding and may change nothing. However… I understand the appeal of a boycott, but the thought of LGBTIQ kids watching these bastards gloat after a NO win makes me wanna boil heads.”
Ben Law, Queer writer and Creator of SBS’ The Family Law
"If there is no court challenge or no successful court challenge and if the government members don't come to their senses and terminate this very bad precedent for our governance, then I will myself be certainly voting yes in the vote."
Michael Kirby, Former High Court Judge (via ABC)
“Our main enemy is apathy. A boycott is not in our best interest. We have to fight it with everything we have and conduct a dignified and respectful campaign where we, as a community, stand together and support each other. I strongly urge every Australian to sign up and make it known that this is an important issue.”
Dr Kerryn Phelps, Doctor, Health & Civil Rights Advocate, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney
We know we’re fired up and we want to take action- this postal vote is an injustice. But, here at LOTL, though we highly encourage the forming of your own opinion, we will be participating in the vote. It’s not often we get the chance to speak loudly. Let’s make it count.
Register to Vote (By 24 August)