Politics

Eric Abetz Gave A Truly Cooked Speech On The Marriage Equality Bill

Something about dead fish?

Senator Eric Abetz is not known for his support for the rights of LGBTQI+ people. He famously argued against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Tasmania in 1994. More recently he’s chucked tantrums about the lack of cultural celebration for people “coming out” as straight, having to see the rainbow flag, and, of course, the postal survey result.

Now, speaking in the Senate about the proposed marriage equality bill, he’s delivered a typically cooked last stand against the legislation he so deeply fears. It’s almost a waste of time to recap, except that he and others like him need to be held accountable for the messed up things they say and later conveniently ignore.

Naturally, He Attacked Trans And Intersex People

In this case, Abetz began by trying to argue that the postal survey only legitimised marriage equality for gay and lesbian people. Transgender and intersex people’s right to marry had not been granted, he said.

He therefore expressed concern that the proposed legislation grants marriage rights to “same-sex couples and others”, as “this would include an intersex person, and a gender diverse person who is legally recognised as having a non-specific gender.”

“The bill adopts the ideology of gender fluidity, which is part of the much discredited, and rightly reviled, and Orwellianly misnamed Safe Schools program,” he concluded.

There’s a lot wrong with this (Safe Schools didn’t invent gender fluidity, Safe Schools is neither “much discredited” nor “rightly reviled”, maybe read Orwell before throwing comparisons around willy nilly lest you look like an idiot), but it’s perhaps best summed up by this sassy response from OII Australia, an organisation advocating for intersex people, which points out that many intersex people actually already have the right to marry.

Not only that, but society hasn’t collapsed. It’s almost as though Abetz’s concerns are baseless fear-mongering, subjecting LGBTQI+ people to immense harm and discrimination for nothing.

Then He Just Pretended The Result Meant Something Else

In the next section of his speech, Abetz demonstrated a total disregard for and/or misunderstanding of polling and statistics.

“Many yes-voting Australians now feel betrayed that we are debating changes that they did not approve”, he said, citing no source, before trying to claim the 10% difference between certain polls’ estimation of the Yes vote and the actual Yes vote delivered as proof of a “10% collapse” in support for marriage equality towards the end of the campaign due to these issues.

Then He Felt Sorry For ‘No’ Voters

He then turned to how hard this whole thing has been for No voters, who he said “voted for fairness and love, amongst other things, just as much as Yes voters.”

These No voters, according to Abetz, truly got the short end of the stick. “They had to go to work, passing Yes propaganda in their very own offices, or physically work under the so-called rainbow flag,” he said. This conveniently ignored that LGBTQI+ people had to endure a little more than just seeing a piece of rainbow fabric they’re not particularly keen on.

Something About Fish?

Towards the end of the speech, Abetz called for people to continue standing up for their rights in the face of marriage equality, saying that “it’s only dead fish who go with the flow. It’s only the live fish who have the capacity to swim against the current.”

This sounds profound, until you realise that it’s not really true. Only an idiot fish with a death wish swims only against the current. When that current is really strong, it’s pretty sensible to just go with it for a bit.

“The postal survey result does not provide a licence for our parliament to trample on our long-established and accepted rights,” he said while wrapping up.

This could just as easily be applied as an argument against Abetz — nothing in the postal survey provides a licence to introduce commercial discrimination for gay people by allowing businesses to refuse service to gay couples who want to marry, nor does it provide a licence to cruelly single out trans and intersex people to further deny them rights.

Eric, look around. No one’s listening.