Why I won't be boycotting the plebiscite

Now is the time to stand together, and stand up for what we believe in.

By Ben Cronly
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Warning: contains homophobic and strong language

Like many queer people, this last week I’ve had a knot of anxiety in my gut about the proposed postal plebiscite.

As a queer and non-binary person, I’m no stranger to the hate that our community faces. Anti-LGBTIQ+ sentiment was rife in many of the low socioeconomic neighborhoods in Tasmania in which I grew up, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear the words “if any of you kids grow up gay, I’ll disown you” from parents.

My earliest memory of the Greens was my father yelling at a TV screen for “faggot Bob Brown” to “fuck off”.

But this is different.

This postal opinion poll will give a massive platform to every one of those people that hates queer people because we are different. It will force us to fight for our right to be included. It will challenge our strength and our temperament.

It has been 13 years since a Liberal government, supported by a Labor opposition, enshrined discrimination into law. The Greens have been with us since the beginning. Because it was right - not because it was electorally popular. And after more than a decade of Greens and community campaigns, we can see that we finally have the numbers: the right-wing has lost the argument on marriage equality. Like us, they know it’s an inevitability.

But our opponents won’t make this about an adult's right to marry who they love regardless of gender. They’re making it about kids of same-sex parents; they’re attacking trans and gender diverse people; and they’re doing all they can to paint this as a toxic, slippery slope that will lead to beastiality and paedophilia.

We will win this.

Protesters with Greens signs and balloon rainbow

This postal vote is a disgrace. It’s tempting to boycott the whole thing. It’s tempting to tear up our papers and throw it in the bin, or send back an envelope of glitter. But if a yes vote doesn’t win, we’ll be facing this hateful public debate for a long time to come. If a no vote wins, we know the Liberal party will block legislative change, and the detractors in the Labor party will come down even harder to prevent marriage equality moving forward.

And we’ll be stuck in a debate that targets young and vulnerable people within our community. People who are far more likely to commit suicide and experience mental health issues than other Australians.

I joined the Greens because we have been at the forefront of these sorts of campaigns for decades. Now’s not the time to give in; now is the time to hit the streets and show our strength, show our support, and stand up for everyone in the community that is feeling alienated and alone.

We can only win this if we do it together.

Make sure you’re eligible to vote.

Choose Love. Vote Yes.

Ben was an inaugural co-convenor of the Queer Greens Victoria in 2015, has been a member the Greens since 2013, and involved in the Greens and the broader environmental and social justice movement since 2010.