Australia and Finland Move Forward

On the international scene, there’s good news from down under: ruling Liberal party leaders will shortly decide whether to allow their members a conscience vote on a recently introduced marriage equality bill. As Reason reports:

“Want to hear a senator introduce legislation legalizing government recognition of same-sex marriage in a speech that also invokes the names of Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwing von Mises? You’ll have to go to Australia for that, mate.”

Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abott remains opposed to allowing gay people the freedom to marry (but will likely acquiesce to allowing a parliamentary vote). Also opposed to marriage equality was former Labour PM Julia Gillard, although she now says that gay marriage seems inevitable.

And more good international news. Finland is set to become “the last Scandinavian country in which gays and lesbians can legally tie the knot if the measure receives final approval,” the Washington Blade reports. And right on Putin’s doorstep, that’s sure to unleash fresh rage from Russia’s gay-hating despot, whose tyranny has driven many Russian gays to seek asylum in the U.S.

More. Putin surrounded by deviant nations! Poland gets its first openly gay mayor in elections with record number of LGBT candidates.

5 Comments for “Australia and Finland Move Forward”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I hope that parliament is able to make it over the hump this year in Australia, now that it appears that Liberal members will be able, as Labour members have been able to do for several years, to vote on conscience when the matter comes before parliament. Polls suggest that about 70% of Australians now support same-sex marriage, which is a significant increase in public support, so the time is ripe.

    I caution that it might be prudent, though, to keep in mind that the last time same-sex marriage was actually voted on in the House of Representatives (2012), the measure failed 42-98, and Liberal leader Kevin Andrews observed after the vote that had the Liberal party released its members, the result would not have changed: “The reality is it would not have made much difference whatsoever to the numbers. There would have been half a dozen people … who would have voted the other way.” A conscience vote does not assure success, but it is a sign of progress that the Liberal/National coalition seems to be moving along the lines of Labour, and removing same-sex marriage from political party gridlock.

    Finland’s progress is another step in the right direction, although, as I understand it, the law will not actually go into effect until 2016 at the earliest, and the measure is likely to be contested in the upcoming April 2015 elections. The Finns Party, which opposes same-sex marriage, intends to reverse the law if the elections bring it into power.

    I was reflecting over Thanksgiving that although our system of government is far from perfect, we have reason to be grateful that our founders and immediate progeny had the wisdom to remove core questions of individual freedom from the political process alone, granting the courts the power to review and, when necessary reverse, laws enacted through the political process.

    Michael and I were able to marry this year because (and solely because) marriage equality was removed from the political process in Wisconsin. If we had to depend solely on the political process to remove Wisconsin’s anti-marriage amendment, we would be waiting until at least until 2018, and probably a lot longer.

  2. posted by Jorge on

    And right on Putin’s doorstep, that’s sure to unleash fresh rage from Russia’s gay-hating despot, whose tyranny has driven many Russian gays to seek asylum in the U.S.

    Bush: “I’ve been warning you [Georgia President] Saakashvili is hot-blooded.”
    Putin: “I’m hot-blooded, too.”
    Bush: “No, Vladimir, you’re cold-blooded.” (Decision Points, 435).

  3. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    The situation in Australia — a Parliamentary system, but with elements of a political culture that sometimes seem similar to our own — was almost funny to watch unfold because the public was generally to the left of both the Liberals (who are actually conservative) and the Labour (which is often more centrist).

    Liberal and Labour Prime Ministers would come out against gay marriage, but public opinion was clearly in favor of marriage equality (especially among younger voters), so the political opposition was increasingly absurd in both of the two main parties.

    It is progress — in terms of Australia. One of the first times that the United Nations entered into the area of gay rights was when its Human Rights Committee ruled that the the criminal laws against (adult/private/consensual) gay sex were in violation of human rights documents.

    The 1994 ruling was in response to a lawsuit was against the Australia territory (state?) of Tasmania. Eventually, the territory agreed to repeal the law. I think one territory in Australia still has their own anti-gay criminal law on the books, but it cannot be enforced.

  4. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    Only Australia — a nation where much of the European settlements stems from a penal colony — would the “Liberal” party be the conservative party and the “Labour” party be the center-left liberal party. Their is irony or humor somewhere in that state of affairs.

    Labour is on-paper as supporting marriage equality, but will probably allow for a conscious vote. The Liberals are on-paper as opposing marriage equality but will also probably allow for a conscious vote.

    Australia has — from what I am told — a very, very (cough, cough) “diverse” set of viewpoints when it comes to gay rights. “Polarizing” is another word for it. Not too much unlike the United States.

    Queensland has generally been very anti-gay politically, and Tasmania was generally as well (until the 1994 UN Human Rights Committee report).

    Their is also a very well-financed and well-organized opposition to gay rights in Australia (which seems to be following a similar playbook as in the United States).

    I am not sure that their are enough MP votes for marriage equality in Australia now, but I suspect that their will be soon.

  5. posted by Tom Jefferson 3rd on

    Poland progress is (in part) because of the European Union human rights mandates.

    The government basically had to — to maintain the EU membership enact some anti-discrimination laws, guarantee the right of privacy and the right gay rights groups to participate in the process and start talking about some sort of legal equity for gay couples.

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