Thursday, January 18, 2007

Australia: The Very Model of a Modern Major Secular Democracy

Countries in the world that now (or will) have federal same-sex marriage, civil unions or some kind of partnership registration scheme:*

Denmark
Norway
Israel
Sweden
Greenland
Hungary
Iceland
France
Germany
Portugal
Finland
Croatia
Luxembourg
New Zealand
United Kingdom
Andorra
Czech Republic
Slovenia
Switzerland
Netherlands
Spain
South Africa
Belgium
Canada
Italy
Monaco
Taiwan

Countries in the world that DO NOT have federal same-sex marriage, civil unions or some kind of partnership registration scheme, and/or where homosexuality is still a crime with varying degree of punishment:*

Australia
United States of America
Malaysia
Niger
Indonesia
Saudi Arabia
Algeria
Sudan
Nigeria
Iran
Mauritania
Brunei
Sudan
Somalia
Yemen
Kuwait
Bahrain
Qatar
Algeria
Afghanistan
Pakistan
Maldives
Uzbekistan

Well I'm sure glad to live in a country that's bestest buddies with Uncle Sam in the War Against Terror©, to fight Islamic fundamentalism and resist dogmatic church-states. Fighting for true democracy, individual freedoms and equality, regardless of race, gender and, most importantly, sexual preference. Aren't you?

Yes, I realise I won't be killed in Australia the way I might be in, for example, Nigeria or Mauritania. Still, there are two sore thumbs sticking out in the second list who are conspicuous by their absence in the first.

I'm still trying to get my head around what it is about Australia, a first-world, peaceful, predominently Christian nation with a secular government, that in this regard makes us so damn different from those first-world, peaceful, predominently Christian nations with secular governments specified in the first list, that we can't follow their lead.

Any clues for me?

(*Note: neither list is meant to be exhaustive.)

18 Comments:

At 18/1/07 2:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's easier than you think.

oz is not a democracy. policy and law originate at the top of the political tree, to suit the convenience of our masters. it doesn't suit howard, it doesn't happen.

see, really simple. get out of the habit of referring to oz as a democracy and many questions solve themselves.

 
At 18/1/07 3:07 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Anon: I agree that the will of the elected PM dictates a lot of policy (or lack thereof) - especially our current PM - but it's still a democratic system that got him to the top to start with.

Well - choice-of-two type of democracy, anyway.

 
At 18/1/07 9:24 pm, Blogger "AK" Adam said...

I'm not sure I'm concerned about being in the second list. I'd rather be with the US than the plethora of barren, schlerotic Euro states you seem to be suggetsing we emulate.

There is something to be said for keeping one's institutions as they are.

(Though you should point out for your readers that, unlike in the US, marriage is federal matter here. I believe many US states have passed some pandering, palliative 'civil union' acts for our people.)

 
At 18/1/07 9:51 pm, Blogger Sam said...

"There is something to be said for keeping one's institutions as they are."

A romantic sentiment, Adam - how about introducing AN institution first (e.g. civil unions), THEN keeping it the way it is?

"I'd rather be with the US than the plethora of barren, schlerotic Euro states you seem to be suggetsing we emulate."

Tell you what then - find me a country you believe more comparable to Australia - other than the US - which also does not have a federal marriage or civil union scheme for same-sex couples.

I sense your heart isn't really in your apologising for this particular Howard government strategy. I think deep down you know what a disgrace it is that we don't have civil unions here.

 
At 19/1/07 8:05 pm, Blogger comicstriphero said...

There is something to be said for keeping one's institutions as they are.

Here we go with that whole "providing equal rights to the homos will undermine straight marriages" thing.

Yes, because I'm sure that when I receive favourable tax treatment, some poor oppressed straight couple on the other side of the country will suddenly snap in half.

That is one goddamn lazy argument, pal.

 
At 19/1/07 9:08 pm, Blogger "AK" Adam said...

Sam, I'm not sure I'm too keen on you deciding for me what pressing issues my heart is or isn't in, but I suppose that I, nonetheless, have to concede that particular hill in this instance.

I'm not about to get into a lather about gay marriages/civil unions/registered partnerships or whatever you want to call them. There are certainly more important matters to be debated, in my view.

Comichero, sorry, dear, I am not the one to shiver and emote about "homos" getting any sort of rights you may propose. At the very least, being one myself, I have an interest in certain elements of the homo "rights agenda" getting up.

 
At 20/1/07 5:23 am, Anonymous Dave Hill said...

Hi Sam. Is it the "mate(s) culture" that holds you back in this respect?

 
At 20/1/07 10:48 am, Anonymous Rogs said...

AK adam, ur a turkey who votes for thanksgiving

howard is a declared enemy of gay people. if that sinister monster had been in power in the 80s there'd have been no decriminalisation, no national AIDS strategy, no de facto rights. more like we would have been deported to some island like bruce shephard wanted and you'd just be a hunted animal

labor is the only party that has actually done anything for gay people in this country

howards turning this country into a anti-libertarian christofascist nightmare in which the only approved public values are the hoarding of money and contempt for others. and even on the economy he just coasts pathetically on keatings coat tails

 
At 20/1/07 6:46 pm, Blogger Sam said...

'I'm not about to get into a lather about gay marriages/civil unions/registered partnerships or whatever you want to call them.'

And yet Adam, you were the one who initiated an argument here to begin with.

I think the real reason you're retreating now is because as usual you're trotting out the Howard government propaganda, but in this instance don't actually believe in its 'substance'.

I give you credit that you're smart enough to recognise there is no valid counter-argument to civil unions.

And rogs: be fair please. I think we can debate issues here without resorting to name-calling.

 
At 21/1/07 3:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its no coincidence that Aus and the US both fall on that sorry list. It seems so many of our pollies on both sides are taking their political cues from the U.S. of late particularly when it comes to appeasing the Christian Right.

Its more understandable in the US since fundies make up such a large portion of the population over there but here? Fundies make up what, 2-4% of the population here? I guess its because our political system and the closesness of the major parties makes that 2-4% essential in winning an election.

Sadly whilst the major parties fight it out over the fundie vote the gay vote which is probably also 2-4% or more of the population is just ignored. The Liberals dont bother (they assume we vote Labor or Green) and Labor take us for granted (they assume we vote for them or vote Green in which case they get our preferences anyway). Sigh!

Id like to think things are changing though. Even in the US the scare factor seems to be waning when it comes to gay rights and civil unions. Lets hope that political mood also spreads to the fair land of Oz. Chris

 
At 22/1/07 10:21 am, Blogger Sam said...

I guess the problem, Chris, is that even though the fundie vote in Oz is very small, it's concentrated in marginal seats, therefore its significance is disproportionately amplified.

And yes, you're right about the Libs ignoring us and Labor taking us for granted. For this election there is a slight difference, however, as a lot of the Sydney pink ghetto has been taken out of Tanya Plibersek's seat and dropped into Malcolm Turnbull's - and his is not as safe a Lib seat as is usually assumed.

So for the first time in Syd a member can't afford to take the poofs and dykes for granted.

 
At 22/1/07 4:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i sometimes wonder why people get upset by j howard, just because he may do something you don't like. don't you feel any resentment toward the people who put him in power, time after time?

howard might simply be the barking dog of the electorate, doing the things he said he would, for which he was elected. insulting howard might be misdirected at best, maybe you should be raging at the society you live in.

 
At 23/1/07 3:14 pm, Anonymous Dan said...

In the US we have the Declaration of Independence, which states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed…”

All men are created equal, unless they are homosexual. All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, unless they are homosexual. We all have the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, as long as your happiness does not include being in a loving, caring, committed same sex relationship. Our government is by definition supposed to ensure that we are all treated equal and have the same rights. However, conservative Christian politicians would prefer everyone conform to their beliefs and deny gays, not special rights but, equal rights as the rest of society.

 
At 23/1/07 4:10 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

Interesting that the majority of countries, who have enacted civil rights for same sex couples, are European.

Considering the majority of Australians are from European descent, we seem to have lost our moral being in Australia, when it comes to "Fair go for all".

 
At 24/1/07 12:52 am, Blogger WhimAndAPrayer said...

Quoth "AK Adam": There is something to be said for keeping one's institutions as they are.

Pray tell, what is that "something"? Inertia for inertia's sake? Hardly a sound basis for public policy...

 
At 1/2/07 10:51 pm, Blogger Arthur_Vandelay said...

No there isn't. That's called an "appeal to tradition."

 
At 1/2/07 10:53 pm, Blogger Arthur_Vandelay said...

There is something to be said for keeping one's institutions as they are.


No there isn't. That's called an "appeal to tradition."

 
At 7/2/07 3:29 pm, Blogger cvm said...

"labor is the only party that has actually done anything for gay people in this country"

Eh? And what was that? As far as advocacy for the gay/queer community it has to be admitted that neither the Libs or Labour have been very good at all but that they have each had a moment or two.

The only parties who have consistently given a voice to the gay/queer community have been the Greens and the Democrats.

ps. I can't be the only one a little chuffed that my country of birth is on the 1st list...

 

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