Amnesty International Australia is partnering with kikki.K on its #MoreLove campaign for Valentine’s Day. Kikki.K is passionate about LGBTQI rights and is donating $1 to Amnesty for every sale from their #MoreLove range to help us continue our human rights work.
To celebrate the partnership, Alison Gibbins, Amnesty Australia’s Deputy National Director, talks about love, life, human rights and marriage equality.
You recently joined Amnesty as the Deputy National Director. What sparked your interest?
I’ve always been inspired by the courageous work that Amnesty does. It’s an organisation that I deeply respect.
What inspired you to defend human rights?
It’s simple: the bravery of ordinary people who stand up in their own communities to protect human rights. That is exactly what happened here in Australia with marriage equality. The willingness of the LGBTQI community to stand up for loving relationships, to be vulnerable to fight for a greater purpose – that’s inspiration!
What is your view on marriage equality?
The result of the postal ballot is a great symbolic gesture. It shows a broad level of acceptance. The choice to get married is now accessible to all people in Australia. This is a huge moment for equality that can’t be overstated.
Of course, marriage equality was always a human right. We didn’t need a postal survey to show us that!
Marriage could be seen as an odd thing to fight for. We need to keep moving away from the repressive history of marriage – of treating women as property and objects of male control. Regardless of one’s identity and sexual orientation there are a lot of loving ways to have relationships.
What do you think of the result of the postal survey?
YASS! I have seen commentary about how the NO campaign set up a process to get as strong a NO as they could. This added to the campaign challenges for LGBTQI activists and their allies. But against all the odds, including personal emotional strain, to get a result of 61.6% in favour is so inspiring.
It has been said that the result of the postal survey was virtually the opposite of how it would have been a decade ago. Has your own view changed over time?
My views about the fundamental rights of LGBTQI people have not changed. I have very close friends from my school years who are gay. If anything, the main change has been my observation of the attitudes around me, including those of my own family and friends. That’s a good thing.
I remember when one of my friends in high school came out to his mother. She wept openly for days.
She was distressed that her son would never have the future that she had hoped for him. She wanted him to have the opportunity to marry and have children. For a teenager coming out to his parents in 2018, marriage and children is so much less of an issue.
Do you know any LGBTQI people whose stories have inspired you?
I have quite a few LGBTQI friends, including people in my extended family. They have all had to be to be very strong in order to be true to themselves and to live their lives. I deeply respect their lives, their courage and the difficult decisions they have made. My journey has been to learn how to support my friends and family whenever they need it. And just as importantly, it’s about me growing as person who, to be honest, has often had it much easier.
As a mother of three young children, what do you think about the concerns raised in this debate about the impact on school children and the education curriculum?
I find this really distressing. To me, this approach comes from a world view where children are moulded and directed by adults at a very basic level. In my view, children are their own selves and respond to their experience of the world around them. To me, the model of parenting that worries children can “become gay” because of exposure to gay people fundamentally misunderstands the nature of identity.
Homosexuality is still illegal in 72 countries and punishable by death in eight. How far do you think we’ve come globally?
Well, obviously we’ve come a long way in the so-called developed world. If someone had told me when I was teenager that we would be here today, I wouldn’t have believed it.
At the same time, in some parts of the world homophobia is a tool of propaganda. Progress is harder in parts of the world where regimes want to associate LGBTQI rights, women’s rights and basic freedoms with “western imperialism”. But for individuals discovering their identity in intolerant societies, it must create hope to know that there are places in the world where you are accepted for who you are. Anytime and anywhere that fundamental human rights take a step forward is a good thing.
Alison lives in Sydney with her husband, her three children and a naughty Doberman puppy.