Politics

Watch A Gay ‘Q&A’ Audience Member Take On A Liberal MP Over Marriage Equality

"When you do go to cast your No ballot, you are saying that your relationship is worthy of marriage and mine is not."

A gay audience member on Monday night’s episode of Q&A went head-to-head with Liberal MP Michael Sukkar over the latter man’s position on marriage equality.

As the debate over the marriage postal survey gets uglier by the day, questioner Alexander Lau asked the panel how Australians could combat the view that same-sex relationships were somehow lesser than heterosexual ones.

“I’m a gay Australian born Chinese man,” said Lau. “My mother holds traditional Chinese views and last night told me that she voted Yes for marriage equality only because I’m gay. While I appreciate her love for me outranks everything else, it was a painful reminder that many in my extended family don’t hold particularly favourable views of the LGBTIQ community and that my relationships are somehow less.”

“This is fairly common in the Chinese community and replicated throughout various other ethnic groups,” he continued. “How can we combat the homophobia found in these communities and ensure that the discussion surrounding marriage equality is focused on the subject of marriage and not conflated with other unrelated topics?”

Speaking to Lau’s point about ethnic communities, Labor Senator Penny Wong said that minority groups in Australia had long spoken out against discrimination on the basis of race, and that equality was not something people could “pick and choose”.

“If you believe in the principal on the basis of race or gender, I don’t see why it is a principal that is somehow diminished or abrogated because of someone’s sexual orientation,” she said.

Lau also received support from American author and journalist Bret Stephens, who said that conservatives such as himself should be opposed on principal to the government interfering in people’s pursuit of happiness.

“Government should not stand in the way of your ability to make the most important decision of your life, which is who you love and to love them with dignity and openness and a sense that this is absolutely okay,” he said.

But Sukkar, a prominent advocate for the No vote, insisted that just because he was opposed to marriage equality it didn’t mean that he thought Lau’s relationship was worth any less than his own.

“Don’t believe that somebody like me, who does support traditional marriage, is in any way looking down on you or doesn’t think that you have a legitimate relationship,” said Sukkar.

He then went on to insist that it was actually No voters who were the victims in all of this.

“This is one of the problems that we have suffered in this debate so far,” said Sukkar. “So many people who are going to vote No are very afraid to say so. They get harangued, get called a homophobe, a bigot.”

“My view is, those of us who believe very strongly in traditional marriage shouldn’t be lumped into the basket that we are somehow hateful, or somehow don’t view, Alexander, your relationship as being legitimate.”

But Lau was less than convinced.

“When I go to family functions, my relatives don’t ask about my relationships because they’re uncomfortable,” said Lau. “They’re not hostile to my relationships or me as a person, they’ll chat about other things… however, my sister or my cousins, if they’re seeing someone new, they’ll have conversations with my aunts, uncles, cousins about their relationships.”

“So in that sense, you voting no is really a reflection of my relationship because what you’re saying is that I’m not allowed to have a marriage or I’m not allowed to have a relationship that is worthy of marriage because that is something that only you can have as a person in a relationship of opposite sex. So when you do go to cast your No ballot, you are saying that your relationship is worthy of marriage and mine is not.”

Cue a massive amount of applause from the audience.

You can view Lau’s response to Sukkar’s comments starting at the three minute mark of the video below.