This Is How A Plebiscite Will Look In Sydney

By Samuel Leighton-Dore

Enrollment for the 2016 federal election closed at 8pm EST last night – and with recent statistics suggesting that our youth vote has the power to change the election result, supporters of marriage equality will no doubt be hoping that the previously unenrolled 50% of Australian 18-year-olds took the 4-minutes to register.

I sure-as-hell am.

The reality is that a national plebiscite would be incredibly damaging not only for rainbow families and young LGBTQI kids, but for the entire Australian LGBTQI+ community. To give an idea of how it might look, Heaps Gay recently trawled through the cobwebbed underbelly of the internet and took a closer look at the 2015 “NO” campaign in Ireland. Then, to REALLY help you visualise it, we superimposed some of their campaign posters onto Sydney billboards. Watch and weep.

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Sydney University.

This is what we’ll be facing in November should Malcolm Turnbull resurrect his role as Prime Minister; an expensive onslaught of discriminatory propaganda seeking to devalue, undermine, and actively attack thousands of relationships, families, and young people. There will be waves of hateful rhetoric from blood-thirsty columnists such as Miranda Devine. Our streets will be littered with banners and posters telling children that their families are fundamentally wrong. There will be television commercials, radio adverts, and full-page endorsements in the newspaper – there will be no escape, no hiding it from children. This is not as simple as allowing “the people” to vote. It’s providing a tax-funded national platform for Australian citizens to tear each other down in a way that is inherently personal – not political. It’s giving young bullies hurtful ammunition against those in the playground who might already be seen as different.

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Kings Cross.

A plebiscite is not actually about choice – it’s about denying people choice. It’s validating the notion that hate is just as important as love; that pushing someone down is a perfectly acceptable alternative to lifting someone up. The debate against marriage equality is littered with blatant contradictions and double-standards; cherry-picking passages from a book written thousands of years ago; omitting the myriad evolutions of marriage already accepted and embraced by much of the religious community. The argument against marriage equality has become one strictly of childish depravity, not of the so-called resilience of traditional values.

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Sydney Harbour.

And that won’t even be the worst of it. A plebiscite will be a red flag to the raging bulls of society; providing ample opportunity to the trolls of every comment section; the conservative keyboard warriors hiding behind a veil of anonymity; the online bullies who already so relentlessly terrorize the lives of many. There will be memes and GIFs and hateful jokes carefully designed to make others feel bad about themselves.

An actual meme…

A plebiscite will be divisive at a time when we so need unity. A plebiscite will be expensive at a time of ruthless budget cuts across the board, particularly to our wilting arts sector. A plebiscite will be a step backward as most of the western world moves forward. A plebiscite will be another ugly stain on our nation’s history.

And the saddest part is that there will be no winners. Nobody will emerge unscathed.

A plebiscite is not about giving choice.
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