Sexuality, like our bodies, is a real thing. However, the two are not mutually dependent. Privileged are those who are born with bodies that comply with societal norms of sexuality. The problem is, like many things, societal norms became misconstrued to be “natural” or “normal”.
When language was evolving, “male” and “female” were words “we” came up with, based on our body types. It was still early days for our civilization. Our imagination, like our language, was limited. We couldn’t think beyond what we saw (except for religion, where everything was founded on faith and not evidence). The Earth was believed to be the centre of the universe, as it fitted well with our mundane observations. But this Geocentric Theory couldn’t explain the retrograde motion of some planets. Did that mean those planets were not “normal”? Probably not. It meant that our theory wasn’t right. And that’s what Galileo proved when he revived the Heliocentric Theory (already proven by Copernicus) by observing the motion of Jupiter’s moons. The Earth was not the centre of the universe, after all.
Unfortunately, the notion of our bodies/physical attributes defining our gender/sexuality hasn’t been dismissed yet. But it cannot explain why some people feel differently about their sexuality and gender, despite the bodies they are born with. The fact that our sexuality could be as much in our “minds” as our bodies, is still as controversial a concept as the Heliocentric Theory was back then. The Church had silenced Galileo through torture and refused him a proper burial after his death. And many countries/societies are trying to silence the LGBT community even now, by denying them the respect and legal status their identities/relationships deserve.
In debates with my contemporaries and the older generation, one thing has always come up. “Marriage should be between a man and a woman, because only a man and a woman can procreate”. Well, I know many man-woman couples who don’t want to (or can’t) procreate. Does it make them any less a “married” couple in the eyes of law or society? Moreover, since when has “procreation” become the main/defining criterion for a marriage or relationship?
Then, there are those who say that a child needs a father and a mother. Of course! But what has that got to do with gender? A man can be as good a mother as a woman can be a father. Aren’t single parents all over the world proving just that by playing both roles?
Another concern was for “what we are teaching our children”. Apparently, if we legalise homosexual marriages, we may be encouraging our children to “become” homosexuals. Well, why would anyone want to become something they are not, just because it’s legal? Do we not realise that it’s our identities we are talking about? Would we casually wake up one morning and change our identities, just because it’s legal? If our children are homosexuals…well, they are homosexuals. Nothing less. Nothing more. And if they are so, why would they be any less in the eyes of law?
This is how I tried to explain it to an elderly male relative of mine….Imagine, everyone around you is calling you a “woman”. Would that change the fact that you believe/feel you are a man? That’s what many people feel like when they are born with bodies that don’t align with how they feel about themselves. Society’s perception cannot dictate their identities. A body is a body. A mind is a mind. Who are we to decide which mind should live in which body…and which type of mind/body should be sexually attracted to which type? Isn’t that the most fundamental denial of “freedom of choice”?
Moreover, if living together (and having children) without getting married (de-facto relationships) is legal in our country….why would same-sex marriages be deemed illegal? Both are forbidden by religion. Then why criminalise only one?
Ultimately, legalising something does not mean we are forced to adopt/practise it! Isn’t that common sense? It simply means that those who want to adopt it, can, without feeling like criminals. And those who don't believe in it...well, are free to marry people of the opposite gender (or not attend/support same-sex marriages, if they are so inclined).
And so, as Australia stands on the threshold of a (potentially) history-making, life-changing new beginning, am proud to say that I voted “yes”.