His ongoing to and fro with marriage equality has seen PM Malcolm Turnbull banned from 2017’s Mardi Gras, a move set to cause more division.
Banning the Prime Minister’s official attendance at Mardi Gras is a deeply regrettable decision against someone who may not want or be able to be an activist champion of the community, but still wants to be its friend. I don’t see how this action can possibly be helpful to the gay rights movement.
For instance, what is there to gain in closing a door on a friendship with the first ever Prime Minister who was actually prepared to stand by our side, and state that we are people not to be denigrated, but celebrated?
This only first happened twelve months ago.
More broadly, though, does it help the Prime Minister persuade more members of parliament that are ambivalent to our cause – marriage or otherwise – to get on-board, when we as a community have collectively humiliated him after taking the brave step to be seen with and supportive of us?
Does it enable a strong-willed backbencher with time on his hands to round up more support for same-sex marriage to be passed by the parliament?
Does it give homophobic members of parliament a plausible excuse to decree that the gay community has become overly militant in its demands, whose views should now be collectively regarded as excessive and vexatious, and therefore now be ignored as white noise?
Have we as a community just let down our younger friends of Dorothy in more remote areas of the bush, who would have continued to benefit from the most senior authority in the land from using Mardi Gras as a platform to inform the country that there is nothing wrong with being gay?
The answers to these questions I would assume to be self-evident, but apparently not to some newly-formed majority faction in Mardi Gras. Some there prefer to block and sneer at the Prime Minister than to engage and persuade.
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That is not to say that same-sex marriage, the cited reason for the ban, is not deeply important, and that the community does not have a right to make its enormous dissatisfaction with the current situation widely known. That is what the parade is for. However, this is not how business is done in the art of lobbying for protection and promotion of a vulnerable community’s human rights.
Do you think, for a different illustrative context, pro-Israel community groups ban pro-Palestinian members of the NSW and Commonwealth Parliaments from attending their functions? Are you kidding me? They welcome the opportunity to engage these critical legislators with wide open arms, and perhaps to at least try and soften their opposition somewhat or prevent them from becoming more militant in their opposition, if not outright change their minds favourably.
To slam the door shut on the Prime Minister of Australia from attending Mardi Gras in an official capacity is such an inflammatory insult to the nation’s foremost representative, who gave us great generosity in affirmation from his attendance as the Australian Prime Minister.
I, therefore, condemn the Mardi Gras organisation for this most shortsighted and frankly irresponsible decision.