Australia and Austria Legalized Same-Sex Marriage and I am So Happy

On December 5, Austria's highest court ruled that barring same-sex couples from wedding was discriminatory. Two days later, Australia’s Parliament legalized same-sex marriage. The first weddings should be celebrated in January, and I am so happy for the people who waited for this moment all their lives, for the children who will be shocked when they learn at school that same-sex marriage was once illegal, and for everyone who was told that their love is not real.

Same-sex marriage rally in Sydney, Australia, on Sept. 10, 2017 // Photo credit: Saeed Khan / AFP/Getty Images via Chicago Tribune

The process was really different in both countries. I did not even know that gay marriage was being discussed in Austria until the court ruling, whereas Australia was all over the news. All countries do it differently and I want to believe that the result is all that matters but in the end, but I don’t think it does. When the results from the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey were released, I was so happy to see that a majority of Australians voted ‘Yes’ in favor of marriage equality. Yet, it does not hide the fact that 38.4% of the respondents said ‘No’, which means that around one on three Australians believes that gay people don’t deserve to have the same rights as straight people.  

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2000. I was 6 at the time so I don’t really remember it. I am pretty sure I don’t even what it meant at the time. As a kid, I didn’t really think about marriage, I just liked the idea of wearing a nice dress. Unlike me, my friends had already organized their dream weddings in their head, and some of them even knew how they wanted to call their first child!

I grew up and more and more countries started to legalize gay marriage: Belgium in 2003, followed by Canada, and Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2008), Sweden (2009), Argentina, Iceland, and Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil, England/Wales, France, New Zealand, and Uruguay (2013), Luxembourg, and Scotland (2014), Finland, Greenland, Ireland, and the US (2015), Columbia (2016), and Germany, and Malta (2017). The list is long but not long enough if you ask me, and more importantly, it does not mean that these countries now are queer paradise. Sure, it feels good to have your relationship validated and recognized as equal but it does not make up for the hatred.   

Photo credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images via News.com

When same-sex marriage was legalized in France in 2014, it was only after months of heated debates. I remember marching in the streets of Paris, and going back to school afterward, where some people would tell me to be careful not to be associated with ‘those people’; riding the train and meeting families waving ‘La Manif Pour Tous’ flags (the main organization campaigning against gay-marriage). This went on for months, and when the bill eventually passed, I could not forget all these people who spent their Sunday afternoons ‘protecting family values.’

In the US, the number of trans people murdered every year keeps growing; the Trump administration says employers can fire people for being gay, and the list goes on. So yes, legalizing same-sex marriage is a milestone in the fight for equality, but it cannot be an end in itself.

So, rejoice Austrians, Australians, and all the others to come, but don’t forget to keep fighting until all people, gay, trans, queer, straight, and cisgender, are truly treated as equal.

 

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