Dear Tony

(An open letter I wrote to Tony Abbott, one of the most prominent ‘no’ campaigners against Marriage Equality in Australia)

Although we don’t agree on much, I wanted to specifically talk to you about your decisive comments this week.

You went on record to launch why you are voting no in the SSM plebiscite. Defending the rights of free speech, and ‘traditional marriage’.

We both know, neither of these is actually a true and valid arguments against Marriage Equality though don’t we?

You have already voted to change the definition of marriage once before, without a decisive, non-binding and expensive public survey. Don’t you remember 2004?

You also made comments this week, that the LGBTI community has already gained equality.

This is where I really think you need to check your privilege. How can you stand up there on your pedestal and tell me how equal we are?

A lot has changed to pave the wave to equality, but there is still a long way to go.

Some states still don’t recognise long-term / de facto LGBTI partners when their loved one is in hospital (or heaven forbid passes away). These couples have no protection at a federal level, unlike straight partnerships do.

How tragic would that be? Having no legal right to be by your loved ones side in their time of need. Or no legal right to the estate? How is that equal?

But I guess you already know that…

One thing I would guess though that you don’t know though is the fear, the inner torment and the emotional roller coaster that ‘coming out’ as LGBTI can be for a person. Even in this day and age (and just to clarify I mean 2017… not the Stone Age).

Society still openly bullies, rejects, teases, torments and physically assaults LGBTI people on a daily basis, simply for who we love.

This is all connected. And is one of the reasons LGBTI youth at such a high risk category for mental health issues.

Suicide rates are around 4x higher amongst LGBTI youth. How can that be allowed to continue? How, when every life is precious, can we let people fall like this?

If the LGBTI community was so ‘equal’, as you say, do you honestly think there would be such a large gap between straight and queer suicide rates?

By continuing to be less than equal, and by having ‘debates’ like this in public, it leads to a very negative and emotional impact on an already vulnerable community. It divides and splits communities. It drives hate and gives decisive comments a platform and audience.

But once again I feel you already knew that too…

Having a public survey on the rights of a minority is ludicrous. But now that you have gotten your way, I really hope beyond hope that a resounding ‘yes’ vote is returned.

Because I believe that love is love. Love is what brings us together and it will always defeat hatred.

I just hope, Tony, that you are willing to listen when the results come back and represent your constituency.

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