The Marriage Debate: A LGBTQI update

Joy94.9, Australia’s only LGBT radio station, is airing a weekly chat show addressing the Same-sex Marriage debate.

Hatch’s resident LGBT reporter, Blair Cowen, is a host of The Yes Factor, which aired the second of nine weekly shows this week, and will bring Hatch readers a weekly summary in this column, which includes his weekly LGBTQI podcast.

This week, the panel chatted with NSW Labor’s Tanya Plibersek and Georgie Harman, CEO of Beyond Blue, an Australian non-profit group that helps educate about and treat depression and related mental disorders. (That’s particularly relevant because anecdotal evidence suggests the societal pressures arising from the marriage equality debate are causing many people grief.)

It may sound like some sassy, glittered-up take on a popular TV talent show but The Yes Factor program and podcast take a serious look at anything and everything to do with the nonbinding same-sex marriage postal survey the Federal Government has forced on Australia.

Each week the team will address issues arising from both sides of the political footy field.

The first show, co-hosted by Fiona Patten, leader of the Australian Sex Party and MP for Victoria’s Northern Metropolitan Region, asked why a modern country is resorting to ticking a little box on a piece of paper and using the snail mail system to judge if we are grown up enough to agree that we all deserve equal rights to freedom of choice in marriage. The team also dissected the High Court challenge, because let’s face it, what the hell happened there?

A theme examined this week was one being raised by both sides of the debate: that activists feel they are being bullied and that no-holds barred campaigning is stressing people on both the LGBTI and anti-same-sex marriage sides, potentially causing mental health issues. (At a “Straight lives matter” rally in Sydney at the weekend guest speakers accused the yes campaign of adopting nazi tactics.)

In conversation with the program director, Chris Tate, Plibersek, deputy leader of the Labor Party, who visited a youth mental health service the day before, said a lot of people were feeling distressed about the way the debate had unfolded, feeling vulnerable, isolated, upset and angry.

“A lot of people who thought they were just fine with their sexuality …  actually, they have a lot of unresolved issues, I mean it’s a very complicated time for people,” she said, confirming that there had recently been a higher demand for services.

Georgie Harman ducked Blair’s question – had any no campaigners been seeking help because of all that nazi bullying? – but made Beyond Blue’s position very clear: “This is about social structures like marriage actually being really protective of our mental health…”

Next week the team will examine activism, revealing who is doing what for each side. To listen, log in to every Wednesday from 9 to 10pm. – Blair Cowen

Here’s Blair’s podcast:

Photo: Ireland voted FOR marriage equality; the campaign there showed some humour and a healthy dose of cynicism about bigotry in general.