In this episode of Aussie English, I talk with Jason and Adriana about gay marriage in Australia and the recent plebiscite.
AE 355 – Interview:
3 Aussies Talk About Gay Marriage In Australia
Alright, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I’m a little out of breath, ’cause I just had to get something from the door that my mom decided to drop off as soon as Adriana and I got on the call here. But let’s do it. Let’s do it. Alright. So, today, we’re going to be talking about gay marriage in Australia. We recently had a plebiscite come through, and a plebiscite is where the government gets the public in a country, in Australia, to vote on a specific piece of legislation that they want to get through or that they want to tackle in parliament, that they want to address. And they’ve sort of shelved it off onto us to get an idea of whether or not it’s accepted by the majority of Australians or not accepted by the majority of Australians. So, I interviewed a gay friend of mine who is an advocate for the LGBT community. You’ll hear that shortly. And then Adriana and I going to have a bit of a discussion. It’s going to be a really good way for you guys to sort of learn vocab, talking about this area, to be able to express yourselves, to have these kinds of discussions with your friends, family, with other Australians, with people anywhere. So, definitely grab a pen and paper out, take note, sit back and enjoy the interview. So, let’s go guys!
Interview with Jason
Jason welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Thank you so much for joining me today, mate.
Hey, Pete. Great to be with you.
So, I guess, just introduce yourself. Tell me a bit about you. Say hello to the listeners. And yeah, give me a bit of your background.
Sure. Hi everyone. My name’s Jason Ball. I am an LGBTI and mental health advocate here in Australia. So, I’m an ambassador for an organisation called Beyondblue, which focus a lot on mental health depression and anxiety. And I’ve also done a lot of work with the AFL, which is Aussie Rules Football, when it comes to LGBTI inclusion. And when I say LGBTI, of course I’m referring to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community.
Brilliant. And so, how did you get involved in that area?
Well, I guess, through my own personal experiences. I was about 12 years old when I figured out that I was gay. And at the time, I thought that that was the worst possible thing that I could be, because the word ‘gay’ was constantly used to mean bad or weak or stupid or disgusting. Saying, “Don’t be gay”, “That’s gay”, “That book is gay”, “Your hair looks gay”, for example. And when I figured it out that I was gay, or maybe that that’s what people think about me because I was gay, it really crushed me and it made me terrified that my friends would discard me or that my family would be disappointed in me. And so, I made a promise to myself that I would never act on these feelings, and kind of committed to marrying a woman and having kids and do all the things society expects of me and no one should ever know about who I really was. And, you know, those early years of struggling to come to terms with who I was, of hiding my sexuality, of trying not to be gay, led me to some really dark places. And I was one of the lucky ones in that I got through that, and I eventually came to accept who I was. And in the end, most people didn’t think less of me. My friends accepted me. My family accepted me. But the football club kind of felt like one of the places that I would never be accepted, because homophobic language words like ‘faggot’ and ‘poofter’ and ‘homo’ were kind of seen as a bit of an accepted part of the game, whether it was coming from over the fence, or from the opposition, or my coach, or even my own teammates. And so, every time I heard those words it felt like a reminder that if any of them found out that I wouldn’t be accepted. But even in this environment, after hiding it for a very long time there was only so much that I could hide. But all of the fears that I had about how my teammates were going to react to me weren’t realised either. And at that point, I realised that when I was young and struggling to come to terms with who I was, especially in that football environment, if I had have known of such a thing as a gay footballer, or if I had have known of… that he could be out to his teammates, and then it wouldn’t be much of a big deal, that would have made a really big difference to me and give me hope for my life. And so, that was my motivation to share my story, and to advocate for the AFL and other sporting codes in Australia, to do more to stamp out homophobia.
And so, do you think it’s getting a lot better these days compared to when, obviously, you were in primary school or high school, and obviously, for our parents when they were going through those times, when, obviously, it wasn’t okay, or at least it was a lot less okay, to sort of come out and feel comfortable coming out? Is it moving towards a better place for young LGBTI children or adolescents in high schools and everything like that?
It definitely is much better today than even five, ten years ago, let alone, you know, when our parents and our grandparents were at school. It was not so long ago, in Australia, that it was illegal to be gay. I think Tasmania was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality, and that was in the late 80s. And, you know, from there with gradually gotten better when it comes to changing discriminatory laws, and young people have felt more comfortable to come out, and we have more visibility of openly gay people, which I think is really important. And so, our generation today growing up kind of don’t… are bewildered by the idea that we don’t have, for example, marriage equality. Whereas older generations, you know, for most of their life there was a whole lot of shame and secrecy and hiding, and most people who are gay were in the closet and living double lives. And so, it’s really big turnaround for younger generations today compared to older generations, and it has gotten a lot better. But even when I was a kid, I didn’t have any positive gay role models. There were no openly gay people on TV who I could look up to and see or project myself into. Certainly no one within the world of sport. And so, you know, that was a pretty isolating lonely experience. But that has turned around. We now have openly gay athletes and sports stars. Still no one within the highest level of the AFL, but we do have that in the few other sporting codes, which is a good thing. And we have, you know, the likes of Matthew Mitcham, an Australian gold medal Olympian, and Josh Thomas, and Ruby Rose, and Ian Thorpe. So, you know, this is only in the last, you know, decade has this happened. And I think that has changed things a lot.
So, do you think that’s fast tracked it as well? Did you guys realise ok a way to get past this is going to be obviously the get role models or people in those positions to come forward and be brave and sort of show themselves so that they can, you know, act as role models to younger children, and it will increase the rate at which these people can feel comfortable in their own skin, I guess?[00:07:34] I wouldn’t say they necessarily did it for that reason, but it did certainly have that impact. It’s important to know that people who are in the closet and feel like they have to hide their sexuality are significantly worse off in terms of their mental health and their well-being. So, there’s a lot of good reasons just for that individual to come out and to be open about their sexuality, and not have to lie about their relationships or where they’re going, and what they’re doing on the weekends. But the impact that it had on people who have a high profile is extraordinary, and I think that has definitely fast tracked the change that we’ve seen today. I think people who know someone on a personal level who is from the LGBTI community are far less likely to hold misunderstood discriminatory or stereotypical views about them. And for younger people today, they know gay people. Some of their friends are gay. Up to 10 percent of their friends are gay. And, you know, for them because they know someone on that personal level they can’t fathom why they should be treated any differently to anyone else. Whereas our parents and our grandparents…
It’s like xenophobia and racism, right? Where the most racist groups of people tend to be the most homogenous with regards to not having other races or other cultures in their communities.
That’s true. And the difference between race and sexuality is that sexuality is invisible. So, you do need to actually come out in order for that visibility to be there.
Yeah that’s crazy. So, what do you see happening in the near future at least? I mean, we’ve got the gay marriage plebiscite that’s just come through this past weekend, which we’ll get onto in a sec. But, do you think that it is moving much further towards an equal footing, I guess, for homosexual people and LGBTI people in Australia and in the Western world?
Well, everything seems to be moving in that direction. But I think the more we achieve, the more pushback we get at the same time. We have had a program called the Safe Schools Coalition here in Australia that was a program to educate teachers on LGBTI issues to help create safe and inclusive school environments for young LGBTI people. The research was telling us that young people at school who are LGBTI had not only disproportionately negative mental health outcomes, but also education and learning problems. A lot of them were dropping out of school because of bullying, or they didn’t feel comfortable, they didn’t want to play sport, didn’t feel comfortable using the toilets or the change rooms. And this program that was rolled out, you know, over the last few years, has been scrapped by the Federal Government, because of pressure from, you know, minority vocal people who were opposed to it.
Which is somewhat ironic, right, in and of itself, if they belong to minority groups as well. Yeah.
Well, I mean, when I say minority, I mean, you know, I guess the Christian world view and religion is probably the biggest. But I would say that their influence that they have on society is disproportionate to how many people really have those strong fundamentalist beliefs. The beliefs, for example, that you know homosexuality is a sin, or that it’s unnatural to be gay, or that gay people, you know, it shouldn’t be legal. You know, there are people in society who have those views, but they are a minority. And I think, at the moment, they are getting a lot of air-time. And we’ve seen some backward steps as well as forward steps the Safe Schools Coalition is one of them. And then with marriage equality I guess we’re gonna have to wait and see on that one.
So, what are your feelings with regards to the plebiscite that just came through, and the postal vote that we had? And, I guess, for those of you who don’t know we’ve just had the government… I mean, you can probably explain this better than me, but Malcolm Turnbull, our Prime Minister, decided that instead of actually, you know, taking the horse by the reins and making the decision himself, he’s pushed it onto the people of Australia to vote on whether or not gay marriage should come through. And we’ve had to do that through the post. What was your view on that? I guess, it was… it must be somewhat bittersweet?
Well, the… for anyone who doesn’t, you know, know… understand the ins and outs of the Australian political system, it can be really confusing to look at what’s currently happening. And it’s understandable that you might be confused, ’cause what is currently happening is completely unprecedented. Like, we have not had an issue that our Parliament has been so unable to deal with for a very long time. And politically, the Government have wanted to delay and distance themselves from this issue. They are currently a conservative government, and there’re a number of members in the current government who are just are so against marriage equality even though the majority of Australians support marriage equality. So, they have gone to an… extraordinary lengths to try and delay change, and also to try and disrupt it. And what we saw with the idea of a plebiscite, which would’ve involved publicly funded campaigns for yes and no, we’re lucky that that isn’t happening, but we are still seeing, you know, campaigns being run for yes and no, is that the opponents of marriage equality believe that with enough fear and enough misinformation they might actually be able to turn the tide of public support for marriage equality in Australia, and that’s what this is all about. And so, it is not something that is necessary. We’ve never had to have a public vote on an issue that wasn’t related to Australia’s constitution for very many years. I think the last time was maybe something to do with the national anthem. And on every other contentious issue the Parliament just does what it’s there to do, which is to vote one way or another. Legislation either passes or it doesn’t. And on this one, we actually are at a time in history for the first time where we have the numbers in the parliament to pass marriage equality, but the current government are so, you know, worried about that happening that they are holding this public vote. And so, the challenge for the LGBTI community, who are getting out there, encouraging people to vote yes, is that it’s not a particularly or accurate way to gauge the national opinion. It’s a voluntary postal survey. There’ve been a whole lot of issues with people getting the survey to the wrong address or, you know, if they don’t have their address on the elect or a record, how are they going to legally receive their phone to vote? So, I think whichever side loses will have a claim to say that this has been a pretty illegitimate process. But then again, you know, because the No Campaign are out there, throwing out accusations, and drawing long bows, and making ridiculous straw-man arguments and attacks on LGBTI people, the LGBTI community have to go out there and fight back, and respond to it, and try and counter that hate with love. Even though they know that this whole postal survey is a bit of a farce and there’s a bit of an excuse for the government not to do its job. We also know that even if we have a yes vote, it’s not actually going to be binding on any MPs (Minister of Parliament) to vote one way or another. The Parliament still has to have a vote, and we still need to be convincing the politicians to vote one way or another to actually pass legislation, whatever the result of this postal survey will have no bearing one way or another on how MPs vote. They’re always probably going to vote more… rather based on their personal views. But if the No vote wins and the current government has said, “Well, that’s that, and we’re not going to deal with this issue anymore.”, which we know is not the case. We know that the LGBTI community are not going to allow that to happen, and we know that there are members within the current government who are prepared to suspend standing orders in Parliament and force the government to vote on it, even if there’s a No vote that comes out from this postal survey.
I know. I think the thing for me that blew me away, and that, I guess, irritated me about the politicians putting this on to us more than anything was the fact that it was something like 122 million dollars to get this thing through, and that that could have paid for 2000 teachers’ a year salary or, you know, you could’ve put that into cancer research or even depression research or funding to, you know, anything else would’ve been a benefit if they’d just decided to vote for it, put it through, let’s move on. And, even just pull out a pole and give the 122 million to a random Australian. You know? Like…
Oh… It is a lot of money. You know. It is 122 million dollars. Just think what that could’ve gone towards. And it’s coming from the Liberal Party who is supposedly economically frugal and don’t want to waste taxpayers’ money. So, you know, it’s completely unprincipled in terms of their political philosophy as well.
It’s pretty mind-blowing. I guess, so, for the LGBTI community why is it so important to have marriage equality?
Well, when I was a kid, I remember one of the first things I thought about when I realised that I was gay was that I wouldn’t be able to get married. I wouldn’t be able to have a fiancé or a honeymoon or a wedding or parents in law. You know, all of these words are really significant in Australian society. They are the words that we associate with loving, committed, long-term relationships, and raising families, and love. And so, for me to feel like I wasn’t going to be able to participate in that made me feel like a lesser human being, like a second-class citizen. And I think it will go a long way to supporting the LGBTI community to feel wholly Australian, and to feel equal to their straight brothers and sisters and mums and dads, if they are granted this right to participate in all of the same institutions that straight couples get to participate in here in Australia. And it’s important to acknowledge that the majority of weddings that are held in Australia are performed by civil celebrants that are employed by the state. So they are actually not religious weddings. About 60 percent of them are state weddings. And so, when it comes to the state deciding that they can wed certain couples and not others, that is discrimination. We do have exemptions though. Religions are allowed to discriminate on various attributes, whether it’s sex, or gender, or sexuality, or marital status, or divorce status. And we see that with the Catholic Church only having male priests and only wanting to ordain straight weddings. And that’s fine. If that’s your religion, that’s your beliefs, you have a right to discriminate in those ways. And to your own detriment, by the way. You know, for these religions who are continuing to hold onto these old-fashioned, out-of-date attitudes, they will just continue people being turned away from their religions. But the other thing to acknowledge is there are a whole lot of churches out there who do want to ordain gay weddings, who don’t see a conflict between their faith and same-sex relationships. And so, just as much on the religious freedom argument should those religions who don’t want to ordain same-sex marriages be allowed to not do that, on the same argument, those churches who do want to ordain gay weddings should be allowed to.
Yeah, it’s a great point that you make, and I definitely agree with you. And it is funny how, I think, that a lot of the argument for not allowing this to come through comes from a very, very conservative religious group or set of groups who, obviously, really want to hold on to the language that’s used. You know, they wanna to hold on to what the definition of ‘marriage’ is, and what ‘a fiancé’ say is and everything like that. And I guess, what do those words actually mean to you? Because for the listeners who are religious and are potentially thinking, “Well, we don’t think it’s OK. It is a sin in the context of our religion.” It’s… those words don’t really mean the same thing to you or to me, right? As someone who isn’t religious. And so, it’s not us trying to impinge upon the rights of religious people to still do whatever they want to do in their own world.
Yeah absolutely. And the reality is that marriage hasn’t always been a religious institution and it’s currently not wholly a religious institution. If it wasn’t, then the state and civil secular celebrants wouldn’t be allowed to hold weddings and marry people. And so, you know, we… exactly as I said before, it’s about the freedom for religions to do what they want, but it’s also about the freedom for those who do want to accept same sex couples to do so.
And so, have you heard any good arguments against gay marriage, or gay, I guess, equality with regards to these sorts of laws? Or it’s always just been religiously based, you know, arguments of “We just don’t want the definition of this word to change”?
Well, I’ve found that even religiously based arguments are often an excuse for just people feeling uncomfortable about homosexuality and their own personal sort of dislike for homosexuality. And I think that when you drill down to most arguments that want to not allow same sex couples to marry, it is this general sense. When you drill down to it, it’s not often on surface. But it’s… it comes down to a homophobic position that is that, you know, straight couples are better or… than gay couples. And, you can… Some opponents to marriage equality will talk about families and children, and say that, you know, absolutely, two men, two women, can’t conceive a child. But marriage is not all about children. We allow couples who are infertile or over the age of 50 to get married. And a number of people who get married don’t always have kids. And we also know that gay people currently do have children. They…, you know, with IVF and other advances in technology, the same technology that allowed an infertile straight couple to have a child, can allow a gay couple to have a child. And we know from the research…
That’s the thing that I find ironic, is that, like, the marriage isn’t going to stop people from having kids, not having kids. And there’re plenty of people who are not married who have children, you know, and aren’t necessarily great parents.
Yeah. Well that’s the thing is that when you… they might say that oh, you know, “This is not good for the children to have same sex parents.”. But when you look at the evidence and you look at the research that has been done, it has shown that children raised by same sex couples are just as well-off and well-adjusted as those raised by straight couples, if not better, because, unlike a straight couple, a gay couple can’t accidentally have a child. You know. There’s a lot of planning and a lot of work that goes into it. Every gay… every child of a gay couple is a wanted child. Most straight people, they rise to that occasion when they get pregnant and they have a family. But often, it’s the reason that, you know, some some children are neglected, (it) is because they weren’t necessarily planned for. And, you know, that’s the sort of the catch 22 of it, (it) is that we know that what a child needs to be happy and healthy is to be loved and supported by their parents. They don’t need gender roles. They don’t need a father figure or a mother figure. They need to be loved and looked after.
Well, and I think most of us, if we had that choice, right, of picking a household that we’re born into, are going to prefer one where the parents are both loving, love each other, love us, and support us, as opposed to a male and female who are married and potentially don’t love us, or are angry, or it’s a broken household. You know. So, it’s kind of like marriage is sort of irrelevant. I just want to be able to give my kids a happy life, whatever the situation is, and that’s what I would want.
And if anything, if marriage does provide stability for a relationship, and that stability will help the children, then that’s only an argument in favour of same sex marriage for those couples who are same sex and have children, because marriage will help their relationship and it will help their children.
So, I guess, finishing up, or getting close to finishing up, for all of my listeners who are potentially living outside of Australia and thinking about coming to Australia, and who are either homosexual themselves or have homosexual friends, and are sympathetic to the LGBTI community, what should they expect when moving from whatever culture they’ve come to Australia as a whole with regards to how we treat homosexuality? Should they feel safe and all the stuff like that, I guess? Can you expand a bit on it?
I think if you’re moving to Australia and you’re moving to one of the big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, or even Canberra, you are going to be accepted as who you are, and you shouldn’t be afraid to give people the chance to know who you really are. These cities have wonderfully vibrant LGBTI communities. We have pride festivals. We have Mardi Gras. We have gay nightclubs. We have gay sporting teams. And so, it’s just such a wonderful community to be part of. And there’s a whole lot of intersectionality and diversity within the LGBTI community including, you know, as a very multicultural country that Australia is, within the LGBTI community we have people from many different nationalities, and religions, and cultures, who share in the richness of that. And I think, you know, it’s what makes Australia great, (it) is that we are a diverse country and we value diversity. We understand that diversity, you know, enriches all of our lives.
Brilliant, brilliant. I think it’s a good point. And I think anyone you know who is deciding to come here and has that in their mind as to something that they’re potentially worried about, don’t be. I think, you know, keep a positive attitude, and if you come to somewhere like Melbourne, where both of us live, you will definitely be treated like… pretty much like anyone else. I don’t experience, at least on a day to day basis, homophobia that’s overt or something that you need to worry about out in the street or anything like that.
Yeah, I absolutely concur with that assessment. I think it’s not to say that homophobia doesn’t exist. I think it exists in every society around the country, but we have done a lot of work here in Australia to educate the community, and the fact that there are so many people who are comfortable to be open about their sexuality, they don’t feel scared to hold their partner’s hand walking down the street, that visibility has only helped to open other people’s minds and make it safer for the next person and the next person to come out.
That’s exactly it. Well, Jason thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it. If any of the listeners want to get…, I guess, absorb any more of your sort of content or follow you, where can they find you? Can they find you on social media anywhere?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, my web site is just Jasonball.com.au, and I’m on all of the social medias, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. JasonBallAU is handle.
Thank you so much again, dude.
Jason Ball links:
Discussion with Adriana
All right, guys, so that was the interview with me and Jason, and I should’ve introduced Adriana, but I’m going to do that now. Here is Adriana, English teacher Adriana. So please, say G’day and tell us a little bit about you. I’m sure that most people will remember, but just in case they don’t.
Hello friends! So, I am Adriana, I help ESL learners’ speaking confidence. And Pete, great topic to get people speaking in English. It’s such a hot topic in the media, all over the world.
That’s it. I know. We’ve been trying to organise one of these get together podcasts. And so, this is number one. So, yeah, I guess, before we get into it, definitely feel free to leave us a comment, send us messages on Aussie English, whether you send it to Adriana on her page as well. All the links will be down below. But we want to hear from you guys. Tell us what you think of the episode, and if you have any topics you’d like us to cover in the future, please let us know.
But most importantly, friends, tell us, gay marriage, is it legal in your country? Is it not legal? Is…What’s happening in your country? We would love to hear from you. Basically, we’re talking about Australia, today. Maybe I might add in what’s happening in Croatia. But we are a global community. Why not hear other thoughts?
Exactly, exactly. And, no better way to practice your English than to get engaged directly or indirectly with us after the podcast episode is already done. But we’ll still be reading the comments and trying to be as involved as possible and encouraging you guys to express yourselves as much as you can in English. So, I guess let’s just get into the topic today. So, yeah, I was sort of shocked I guess when I first heard about the plebiscite coming through. So, to give it a bit of background. It sort of got talked about and the government here, the Liberal Government, which is in power at the moment, we have sort of Liberal and Labor are the two sort of halves, and the liberals are the conservatives. They had talked about this a few times when people had asked for gay marriage to be voted on by the Parliament, and they finally decided that they were going to ask, you know, us, because they didn’t want to have to deal with it themselves. And so, we got this little, like, envelope that came in the mail. It had two big boxes on it and we had to say… you know, it said ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and we had to close or cross or tick one of them and not the other, and then post it back. And we’re going to find out what the results are, I guess, I think it’s November the 15th. So, maybe a month from today they’ll count them up.
One interesting point to note is in Australia voting is mandatory. So I’ve been abroad for a while.
Go for it.
And I saw segments of this through social media and media in Australia. Was this vote very mandatory?
Nup. This one was totally voluntary, because it wasn’t a federal or state election. So, I think if we’re voting on politicians to come into Parliament, then it’s definitely mandatory, and we have to or we get fined, I think, 20 dollars or something if we don’t vote. But yeah, this one was totally up to you if you wanted to do it or not. It wasn’t mandatory.
So, I’m not sure. What happened with you? Did you get to vote in this being over in Croatia? ‘Cause… Was there like an online option?
I have to check. But I’m not registered in the electoral commission.
So, who is your closest, like, candidate that takes… Who is your closest politician, Adriana, to Croatia?
Actually, I’ve been a little bit out of the political scene. I’ve been here for seven years. But I can vote. If I am registered at the electoral office. And I did vote at the embassy. So, I can go to the Australian Embassy in Zagreb. It’s actually quite close. So, it’s not an issue. I think, also, we can vote online. I can’t remember but I took myself off the electoral. So, I don’t have to worry about it. Because we get fined, even if were abroad. And then…
Really? I didn’t realise that was the case. I thought if you had an address in Australia and, you know, you decided that you weren’t going to vote, that you would be definitely fined. But I thought, who are they going to send the find to?
Because when I moved, I did have an address. So, it depends if you change, if you have permanent residency. But I’m a citizen without permanent residence… No wait. I’m a citizen, but I don’t have residency currently in Australia. I don’t have residency in Australia, yes, ok.
And so, I guess, what is it like in Croatia? Are they having the same sort of things coming up in the government or anything like that at the moment with regards to gay marriage? Or is that dealt with? Or it’s not nowhere near even being spoken about in Croatia?
Every country is different. Before I go into that, it’s always a topic in the media. But they held a referendum two years ago here in Croatia. And in Croatian it was called “U ime obitelji”. In English, “In the name of family”. And they held a referendum to change the constitution in Croatia, to define what is a family, and they defined that a family is man and a woman and children. So, they held… they spend taxpayers’ money to define this clearly in the Constitution. And you have to understand that Croatia is a Catholic country. There is a strong influence of the Catholic Church, and the people are very inclined to…, this vote, this referendum passed, and they managed to change the Constitution. But, there… they do have Mardi Gras here. They have gay pride march once a year. In the past, it was… listening to the conversation you had before, with gay people having problems walking the streets, or being… gay-bashing, or just being attacked for certain… for expressing feelings towards someone. This was the case in Croatia maybe about 15 years ago.
Crazy. Yeah, it is funny how it’s so different, I guess, and culturally accepted in different ways. Because I think Australia would have been, if you rewound maybe 30, 40, 50 years ago, it would’ve been probably a similar story to Croatia, I guess, today with regards to conservative views on marriage, and on what a family was. But I guess, yeah, it is funny, I guess how religion is sort of going on the back burner in Australia with the average person probably, you know, becoming less and less religious over time. And so that’s probably why I would imagine we have this sort of, I guess, more of an acceptance now of gay people and being less shocked by seeing people holding hands in public. That’s definitely become a lot more common in Melbourne in the last 10 years that I’ve been here. You’ll see men and women holding hands in the street, and, you know, I don’t know. It’s kind of nice. I don’t know. I enjoy it. But it is definitely interesting just the way things change. Sorry?
I don’t know. At university, I studied at La Trobe, and I remember they have societies, and it’s quite common to see two females, two males. They were accepted, and I didn’t think twice about it. It’s a normal part of society.
Yeah. And it’s going to be interesting to see how the vote comes through. Because, I mean, I’ve… I live in Melbourne, and I think Melbourne is probably very, you know, progressive. It’s not a very conservative place. There are a lot of people here who are from all over the world, of all different religions. And so, I think the majority of people here tend to support gay marriage in Australia and will have ticked, you know, ‘yes’ if they are Australian citizens and had the right to vote, and could be bothered voting. But, it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like in other places, because, I guess, we, as people from Melbourne kind of, are in a bubble, a sort of progressive bubble, I guess. And you forget that there’s still another 20 million people in the country, you know, in all these different locations. So, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
And what’s your stance on gay marriage? Yes or no?
I’m yes, I’m yes. Nah, go to it! I’m definitely yes. And, I guess, to clarify why, I’m not religious. So, I don’t have the religious view that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, I am sympathetic to religious people who believe that as defined by the Bible, or as defined by their religion, the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I guess, it’s just that because I’m not religious, it doesn’t affect me, and I have a lot of gay friends who I just want to be happy. And if it means so much to them, as someone who isn’t overly religious I lose nothing from conceding that part of our culture or our community. And it is one of those things, it’s probably like that for me because I don’t really, as someone who isn’t conservatively religious, I don’t value marriage personally that much. So, I’m not really giving up anything that I hold onto is very very important on a personal level. So, that’s where I stand. I voted yes. I think that it’s going to bring through more good than bad. I imagine it will make a lot more people feel like they’re not second-class citizens, like they can show that their relationship with the person that they love is incredibly important to them. And I think that for the most part, all the gay people I’ve spoken to about this, it’s not so much that they’re trying to force people to marry them, they’re not trying to sort of invade the religious area, they just want the public to recognise their relationship the same way that two married people, who aren’t religious, or who are religious, get the same kind of, I guess, respect for their relationship. Whereas, I feel a lot of gay people probably feel like they’re not looked at in the same light, and not taken seriously. And so, that’s… that would be painful, I think, for me, if I put myself in their shoes. And I imagine that if I was with someone that I really loved and for whatever reason the government said, “Sorry, but you’re never going to get married like this other demographic in the country”, I can imagine that it would be upsetting when I love that person just as much as any other couple did. But, that’s my two cents. What about you Adriana?
Why… So, I do… I come from a Catholic upbringing in Australia. I went to a Catholic kindergarten, a Catholic primary school, a Catholic high school. I’m religious today. So, maybe my perspective is a little bit different towards you.
But that’s why it’s so good, right? That’s why it’s so good, because it’s not just, you know, an echo chamber of the same opinion.
Yes. I’m religious. I believe in good, and I believe that if you do good to others, other things will also be… you’ll good in return in the long term. For gay marriage, I’m… it’s a difficult… it’s a tough topic. I believe that marriage is something I respect. It’s sacred. It’s a sacrament. Me and my husband, we did get married in a church. For me that is… it doesn’t matter that we wear a ring, but we respect each other. It’s something that we chose [00:39:58] all our life. [0.7] And if two gay people love each other, I do believe that they should be able to have some sort of civil ceremony to have the same rights as me my husband do, for example. It’s… I feel sad or I can understand gay people… I’ve read in the media that, [00:40:21] say, inheritance, [1.1] they have problems if one passes away that the other partner can’t inherit something, or in the unfortunate situation, if one partner is left in hospital that the other partner can’t make decisions for them whereas the parent is needed, in everyday life they should be able to have some sort of civil ceremony. But inside the Catholic Church and within anything in this I’m against gay marriage is taking place. But also, I don’t believe they should receive the same status. Again, I don’t mean to discriminate but it also not because of religion religion but just pure science.
To have children. It’s required to have a male and female. And then we have children. But unfortunately, this is not the case in their situation. In Croatia, lot of people are very conservative in regards to gay marriages especially adopting I believe they should have the opportunity to adopt children. If the child’s hungry or if it’s cold, why shouldn’t it receive a loving home if two gay people would like take it? I’m all for them adopting, for living together, for the same rights, but for me marriage is sacred. So, I feel that it’s something that is religious and, ok, for me it’s Catholicism. But in other religions as well they should have the same civil rights as me my husband, for example. Why not?
I guess it’s interesting because how do you feel then about people who are gay but aren’t religious who get married? Is that still kind of do you look at it the same way where it’s like you should have another option as well.
It shouldn’t be that your marriage should be purely a religious thing and there should be some alternative for the non-religious gay straight heterosexual whatever.
Oh, who am I to judge? This is my own personal opinion.
No, I mean just for the sake of discussion.
Yeah, I’m just curious because that’s I guess I can totally understand that point of view where you say based on, you know, what marriage is to me and my religion I believe that that’s why it’s it should be kept the way it is and there should be an alternative for those who aren’t religious and who might be gay or might you know just be atheists.
I’m religious but it doesn’t mean that I’m judgemental. So, if for example my sister in law and her husband had a civil ceremony and a civil ceremony celebrated the wedding that was their decision. And I respect their decision. I have other friends who also had civil ceremonies. And what if they love each other, why not? It doesn’t mean they have to be married in a church.
These are my personal values.
But I do believe that it should be in the Catholic Church to apologise. But, and it is something… and for the same reason, in… or in other religion as well, if wasn’t Catholic and I wanted to get married in the Catholic Church I would have to be baptised. And I’d have to get all the sacraments. But there is a procedure. Unfortunately, it is like this at the time. Being religious means you’re also a good person, and have an understanding, love your neighbour, and if your neighbour is different. It doesn’t mean that we should hate them. Respect them. That’s why we have governments today to protect these people. We have moved away from religion in Australia. In Croatia, it is a little bit different. But, I do believe the government should respect these people, should provide rights, that if they are sick or need support, they do get that pensions, to inherit pensions, to provide medical support. They are people. It is discrimination.
That’s it, that’s it. Well, and hopefully, whatever the result is, I guess, you know, for better or worse, whether it’s a majority saying no or a majority saying yes, hopefully, the government does respect that decision, ’cause that’s the annoying thing too about this plebiscite is that it’s not binding. So, even if the majority of Australians said no, the Government could still vote yes, and vice versa, if they said yes the government can still say no. So, it’s been pretty annoying, ’cause I think it cost 122 million dollars to put on as well. So, it was just a massive amount of money.
In today’s day and age, do you think it’s necessary to spend so much money on plebiscites or something like this?
That’s one of those things. So, despite being a Yes Voter, I’m incredibly irritated that this vote is taking place. I would rather it wasn’t and that the government just did what they felt that they should do. You know, it should be a conscience vote where whoever you are, whatever you believe, just say your opinion, and you’ve been elected by, you know, all of the public of Australia to represent their views. So, if your view isn’t a representation of the public’s view, what are you doing there? So, that’s why, I think, I was really irritated because they should just make the decision and not pussyfoot around and worry that they’re going to make the wrong one that could alienate their voters and waste, I think it was the equivalent of two thousand teachers’ annual salaries on this vote. You know, so that’s the main thing that irritated me. We could have spent this money on anything like recycling, making better solar panels, hiring 2000 other teachers, drawing names out of a hat and giving 122 million dollars to a random Australian. Anything would have been better, I think.
I grew up in Melbourne, and you’re in Melbourne at the moment, what do you think about people or even rural areas or in the outback in Australia? Do you think they would have a different perspective to us, or…?
Definitely, definitely. I mean, I think it could go either way. I think that there would be a lot of people who would be quote/unquote “progressive” in their views that live in the outback, who would probably support gay marriage, and who probably aren’t very religious, but by the same token, I would imagine there are also incredibly religious or, at least, you know, conservative groups out there as well who the average person from a big city like Melbourne isn’t exposed to and may forget about from time to time. And so, that’s what I was discussing with my sister recently, where, I guess, we’re surrounded by people who are all going to vote yes, and we imagine that despite thinking that the majority of Australians are represented by our views, because they’re all the Australians we know, we [00:47:30] still realise [1.2] that there are a heap out in the outback and in completely different areas, who probably have completely different views. So, that’s one thing that’s interesting. I guess, you and I, having different views too, hopefully, cover the different kind of views you would see in Australia, because I would imagine that… I’d think it’s going to be a lot closer than I would hope. As someone who wants the yes to come through, I think it will be a lot closer to 50/50 than 90 percent/10 percent, you know? But, who knows? And it’ll be interesting to see what the result is either way.
Yeah, sorry, I sort of cut you in, but I do… It’s a waste of money. I do understand. But it affects… it can change society. For example, in Spain they voted yes 10 years ago, if I’m not mistaken. And then, social norms can change. Maybe culture can change. I think it’s good to put this vote to the public. It is a waste of money. I do believe that it can be better spent. But at the same time, I would feel almost like it’s a dictatorship, if the government does say, “Yes, OK. Now they can all get married.”. And even though it does cost a lot of money, it is something that in the long term could affect Australians how society is, and maybe these people in… out in the Outback, they are underrepresented in Parliament.
Yeah, well, that’s the difficult thing, isn’t it? It’s… no one knows what the best answer is. And, we just hope too, that if it does come back, you know, a no, that it doesn’t divide the country a great deal. So that’s going to be the difficult thing too, is how will places like Melbourne and Sydney that are probably a lot more gay-friendly than some other areas in Australia, how will they react, and people react in those places? But, whatever happens I just hope everyone ends up happier than, you know, they currently are. So, fingers crossed it turns out for the best.
You everybody should deserve the right to be happy and loved. I think that’s important.
That’s it. Anyway, did you want to get on to three of the vocab sentences out of the interview that we liked the best? I selected a few and thought that they were awesome. So…
Yeah. I went in and snuck in there and highlighted the ones that I liked. So, we’ve got a Google doc, guys, that Adriana and I are both working on with the different expressions and stuff, and I’ve highlighted three, and got Adriana to grab three as well that she liked.
Maybe you can begin with yours.
Yeah, yeah, no worries. So, the first one was “To stamp out homophobia”. I really like the phrasal verb “To stamp out”. So, “to stamp out” is to end something, something usually bad or unpleasant, by taking strong and determined action. And you can imagine, I guess, like, a rhinoceros stamping out a fire. You know, he’s stamping out the fire. It’s getting extinguished. It’s getting put out by stamping. So, I really like that phrasal verb. The next one was, “Do you think that’s fast tracked that?”. That was the quote. So, “To fast track something”. Again, I guess that’s a phrasal verb. So, “To fast track something”. And… Well, it’s an adjective here, but it means to speed something up. So, if you were working, I guess, at work, and you had to get a project done, and your bosses come over and said, “I need you to fast track it”, it would be the idea of, “You need to get that done as soon as possible, as quickly as possible.”. So, I guess it’s like shifted across the running track onto the fastest track on the inside, put on the fastest track, so that it gets to the finish line the soonest, the quickest. And the last one that I had was, “It has been scrapped by the federal government”. So, if something “is scrapped” by something else, that is that it was gotten rid of, it’s been thrown out. So, it’s no longer useful. It’s no longer wanted. It’s been thrown away. It’s been treated like it’s scrap that’s going to be thrown away onto the scrap pile, the scrap heap. And so, we can use it as the verb “to scrap something”. So, we’ll often use this when plans get changed like the government here scrapping something. It means they’ve thrown it out. They’ve changed their minds. They’ve turfed it, and no longer think it’s useful. They’ve scrapped it. So, those were the three that I liked. “To stamp something out”, “to fast track something”, and “to scrap something”.
I had a great one that you used in the conversation. It was “an equal footing”. And I like it in… for me it a great analogy between when you’re talking… “Footing” is the base of a house. So, think of it as when you’re building a house you have the footing. So, the basis on which something is established or operates. And then, you can use that when you’re talking about different ideas. So, let’s talk about the foundations, footing. Or let’s talk about just the base of the topic. And I think this is something that a lot of you can be using if you’re talking about complex ideas such as this one. If you get confused. So, if you want to go back to basics, or back to the say, an equal footing, or go back to footings, it’s a great term to sound more natural. And you will hear this a lot in everyday conversation. Maybe me and Pete haven’t used this together, but it was used quite often in the conversation. Also, the phrase “better than five years ago, let alone 50 years ago”. Our comparing ideas and thoughts, especially, in such a sensitive topic like this, using something like… so, say, gay marriage rights, they were okay, let’s say five years ago, but they weren’t so good five years ago “let alone” 50 years ago. So, if you want to exaggerate that something was in the past, or refer… comparing two things, this is a great comparison to be used in English, especially, if you’re maybe with friends having coffee, drinks. If you’re in a debating team, that’s always great. But if you’re in a work situation. Maybe you’re talking about different economic situation in your country compared to a different country, sales, etc. (It’s) a great phrase to be using. But also “led me to some really dark places”. This is the beauty of the English language. So, in the interview, he was saying that, so, a lot of gay people can be… can feel like they’re in some form of “dark place”. Our “dark place”… think of a dark room with no lights, and you have to think of it being that you’re upset. What emotions are brought about when you’re in a dark room? And we can use this “dark places” in English when we’re talking about, maybe, situations that you don’t feel really happy in. And this is just a great… it’s a great way to be using to express your ideas that you weren’t happy, instead of saying “I was sad”, “I didn’t feel great”, “It was disappointing”, “(It) lead me to some dark places”. Yeah, those are my three.
Brilliant. That was awesome. So yeah. Well, we’ll finish up there, guys. We hope you enjoy the episode. We know there’s a lot of content there for you guys to go through, sift through, find some really cool expressions, and heaps of vocab, hopefully, that you haven’t heard before and that you can use in conversations. Remember, tell us what it’s like in your countries. Is gay marriage allowed? Is it… has it been voted through? Did you have to do it through a plebiscite? Or was it just done by the government? Or maybe it hasn’t come through yet. Tell us your opinion and let’s have a chat. And thanks so much to Adriana for joining me in today’s episode.
No worries. And where can everyone find you Adriana? Put your plugs in.
The best way to get in touch is my website www.EnglishTeacherAdriana.com there you’ll find my YouTube channel, all my social media, my handle is English With Adriana, English Teacher Adriana was too long. But, you can connect with me there. Thank you Pete for having me. And…
My pleasure. My pleasure. Go check her out, guys! She’s amazing and is always pumping the content out on Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook. So, go do it. Do it.
See you guys.