Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A Victory for Human Decency in Australia

Australians celebrate victory over religious bigotry
Australians back gay marriage in non-binding vote - BBC News:

Great news from Australia!

In a non-binding 'advisory' postal vote, Australians have voted 61.6% in favour of legalising same-sex marriages on a 79.5% turnout. Unlike normal Australian voting where voting is compulsory, this referendum was voluntary, which makes this turnout even more remarkable.

On a regional basis, only 17 of the 150 electorates voted against the proposal "Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" Australia's chief statistician, David Kalisch said, "This [turnout] is outstanding for a voluntary survey and well above other voluntary surveys conducted around the world. It shows how important this issue is to many Australians".

This represents the massive rejection of divisive Christian dogma in favour of the progressive, inclusive and liberating secular humanism that we are seeing in much of the developed world. The Medieval superstitions having their origins in the Bronze Age Middle East are at last losing their influence on society as people come to realise that we don't need a book and a heirarchy of self-interested clerics to tell us how to behave, especially when the society that produces has victims and repression central to its operation. This is needed by religions to reinforce the in-group versus out-group mentality by which religions maintain their support. That leads to what Sam Harris has described as the Balkanisation of society with mutually hostile groups eyeing each other with suspicion and which can frequently erupt into actual conflict and social instability.

Significantly, the Yes campaign had argued on the basis of equality whereas the No campaign concentrated on issues such as the definition of a 'family' and concerns about how to teach about gender in schools. Of course, the definition of a 'family' is whatever definition we wish to give it; it is not a sacred, unchangeable thing. Society makes its own rules. It's almost beyond parody that the religious right, which has traditionally opposed sex education in schools, is now complaining that same-sex marriages would make it more difficult.

This referendum is not binding and legislation is still required to turn the will of the Australian people into law. Already, the regressive Christian factions are campaigning to be allowed to retain their self-abrogated right to discriminate and victimise with demands that businesses owned by people opposed to same-sex marriages should be allowed to refuse goods and services to them. No doubt they will argue, as they have elsewhere, that it infringes their human rights to deny them the right to deny others their human rights. As always, the Christian right will claim divine sanction for their self-abrogated right to special privileges and the right to overrule the democratic will of the people.

It's now up to the Australian people to ensure their government implements this clearly-expressed desire for a more inclusive, more caring and more humanitarian society, free from the ability of the forces of regression and division to sabotage it in practice and to try to hold Australian society back in the superstitious Middle Ages.

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