By Wing Hong Chu
Wing Hong also goes by (Vee) is the Co-founder of the Adelaide Amnesty International LGBTQI Network, current convenor of the Adelaide Artillery Network and former convenor of the Flinders University Amnesty International Activist Group
To celebrate the recent success of our marriage equality campaign, Amnesty International Australia has given two interstate queer rights activists the opportunity to attend this year’s Mardi Gras and I have been incredibly blessed to be selected as one of them.
A little less than a year ago, my queer, gender non-binary friends and I were still busy running around, collecting signatures for Amnesty International Australia’s petition on marriage equality. Today, it still feels so incredible that marriage equality has finally been actualized in Australia.
As the Queer Amnesty International Adelaide Action Group, we attended community events and had countless contentious discussions with people of all different political persuasions about the legalisation of same sex marriage.
We talked about the positive impacts marriage equality would bring to Australia, including improving the mental health of queer young Australians and reducing suicide rates (much like it has in the U.S.).
Given the damaging impact of inequality on mental health, numerous corporations and non-profit organisations have voiced their support for marriage equality. Even the Australian Medical Association has shown its solidarity.
We were adamant that our work would add to the momentum needed to pass a fair and just marriage equality bill to legalise same-sex marriage and protect same-sex couples from other forms of discrimination. Despite our efforts, the campaign led to a legally non-binding postal plebiscite which costed Australia tax payers $122 million.
Nonetheless, the majority of Australians – 61.6% – favour of love, and we celebrated. Thanks to everyone who voted ‘Yes’, marriage equality is now a part of Australian law. This is truly a historic and impressive achievement for Australia that I can’t wait to celebrate with the LGBTQI community in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade.
Although marriage equality is a blissful victory for the local Australian queer community, there are still so many brave individuals who face brutal prosecution and senseless violence for speaking out against injustice.
This Mardi Gras, I’ll be sparing a thought for those still struggling for equality. Amnesty is campaigning for BRAVE human rights defenders this year, including those like Transgender activist Sakris Kupila who is standing up for human rights in his native Finland despite continued threats and hostility. This year we’re marching for Sakris and others like him around the world who are fighting for equality under the law.