#vicSRCvoices: Young Australians want their say on marriage equality.

In the upcoming Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey many have been asking whether those aged 16 and 17 years will be able to have their say, and for good reason.

As the law currently stands across Australia 16 and 17 year olds are legally permitted to marry (though not same sex couples). And as we all know those aged below 18 in Australia are excluded from voting in national elections or plebiscites as they are not yet deemed to be adults.

The big difference here is that the upcoming marriage equality postal vote is neither of those, but instead a national survey.

In the case of an election, government officials must honour the majority outcome of the vote. With a national survey like this one the outcome is non-binding. Essentially casting a national survey is a way for the federal government to get an idea of how Australians feel about the matter by asking them directly.

So as the vote is a non-binding survey and young people can already marry, many have been left scratching their head as to why young people have been excluded.

Newly elected VicSRC Executive Rames Williams (17) shares his frustration on the topic.

 

This survey is not only about marriage, but about the rights we have as humans, as brothers, as sisters, as sons and daughters.

As a young gay male I would like to have a say in my future, the right to be me and the right to marry the person I love. Australians deserve the chance to choose their husbands or wives, same sex or not.

Young people are the future of this country with an important voice in Australian society. By dropping the voting age to 16 or 17 for the survey, I promise you a high number of teenagers will embrace this opportunity to have their say. This is our country too; we deserve to have a say in our future.

By not allowing 16 or 17 years to vote excludes those who may become of age a short period after the cut-off point, meaning that they are excluded from a decision that would affect them in a matter of days. Different generations have different values, though each should be heard.

Studies from Galaxy Research show that between 2009 and 2012, 59% of Christians and 41% of Muslims in Australia supported marriage equality. Now in 2017, we can see that overall 65% of Australians support marriage equality.

Colombia, France, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay and many other countries have legalized same sex marriage, though Australia seems behind. I strongly believe that this poll is not just for fighting for marriage equality, it’s about fighting for equality in general.


As the nation continues to debate same-sex marriage VicSRC is urging young people, especially those in the LGBTIQ+ community to stay connected with their support networks amid concern about the tone the ongoing debate could take.

If you are finding the discussions in particular those on social media, difficult, disrespectful or just too much, consider taking a break from your online feed. Talk to a trusted adult in your school, community or family. 

If you wish to talk to someone here are some useful contacts

NATIONAL

MINUS18
Minus18 is Australia’s largest youth led organisation for LGBTI youth, and provide mental health support, online resources, youth mentoring, and social events.
www.minus18.org.au

KIDS HELP LINE
You can talk with the team any time. Kids helpline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week  on 1800 55 1800, We listen and care. Talking helps.
www.kidshelpline.com.au

HEADSPACE
National youth mental health foundation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of young Australians 1800650890
www.headspace.org.au

BEYONDBLUE
beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia acheive their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
(03) 9416 2889
www.beyondblue.org.au

VICTORIA

SWITCHBOARD
Switchboard provides free, confidential, and anonymous telephone counselling and information for sexual and gender diverse Victorians.
1800 184 527
www.switchboard.org.au

EQUINOX
The Equinox Gender Diverse Health Service offers a safe, inclusive space for trans and gender diverse people to access quality general practitioner services.
(03) 9416 2889
www.equinox.org.au


#VicSRCvoices is a rolling series driven by the stories and experiences of student representatives. It’s about who we are; what we value; what drives us to act; and what fuels our passions to advocate for what we believe in.

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