To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the marriage equality #YesVote announcement in Australia, Twitter Australia partnered with Australian Marriage Equality to host #BeyondYes. The event addressed what #VoteYes said about Australia and how it can give us hope for the challenges ahead.
Aunty Millie Ingram commenced #BeyondYes proceedings with a welcome to country and a strong reminder that whilst racism is still rife, the fight for equality is still very prominent. Vibrant panel discussions were then kicked off over lunch by Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) and Dr. Shirleene Robinson (@shirleene), who are both board members of Australian Marriage Equality and authors of “Yes, Yes, Yes: Australia’s Journey to Marriage Equality”.
Australia’s most prominent marriage equality activists including David Marr, influential social and political commentator; Shannan Dodson (@ShannanJDodson), Indigenous, communications and media sector specialist; and Anna Brown (@AnnaHRLC), Human Rights Lawyer and Co-Chair of the Yes campaign were also on the panel, each reminiscing on their personal experience with the same-sex plebiscite.
The discussions and responses between each panel member were met with support from the audience as Shirleene then prompted discussions about what “yes” meant for Australia as a country. Alex Greenwich said, “it meant that we can trust Australians to do the right thing.” Anna Brown noted that “to have overwhelming support from the Australian people was amazing. You could feel it. When we speak to parliament now, they know that we are speaking on behalf of Australians. They now listen more, conversations have changed.”
Alex and Shirleene swifted the conversation to hope and the overwhelming support that took over Australia exactly a year ago. David Marr was particularly vocal about how hard Australians fought to get the #YesVote over the line: “with Tony Abbott’s electorate voting an overwhelming 75% “yes”, it showed Australian politicians exactly what Australians wanted.”
During the panel, Shannan Dodson from the National NAIDOC Committee (@NAIDOC) opened discussions about the future and next steps to go #BeyondYes. Shannan discussed the priorities and challenges including standing together with Aboriginal rights movements such as her own campaign “Voice, Treaty, Truth”. She said that she joined the #VoteYes campaign and drew immediate similarities to her own struggles: “the success of the Yes campaign has given me hope that Australians are progressive and that people want to support the rights of the LGBTQI people and the Indigenous community.”
Anna Brown, Human Rights Lawyer, spoke passionately to the discrimination against the LGBTQI community by religious schools that has been in the media of late. “We need to capitalise on the yes vote momentum. Equality and changes need to carry across housing and institutions as a whole. We currently have laws that force transgender people to undergo surgery before they can change their sex on official documents. 40% of transgender kids attempt suicide. We need to stand by them and rainbow families in support.”
David Marr reflected on the political barriers that are opposing many of the fights for human rights and equality in Australia. “The government says that it doesn’t want clumsy exemptions, it wants positive provisions in law. Well, you don’t need anything in the law to be nice to people.”
Closing out the evening, Alex Greenwich addressed the room, urging people to continue to fight for equality #BeyondYes. “Let’s take this as a call to action to keep moving forward and hopefully take over New Zealand as the most progressive country in the southern hemisphere.”
If you weren’t able to catch the event, check out our #BeyondYes panel on @Periscope
Also check out Australian Marriage Equality’s wrap of the event and follow them on Twitter at @AMEquality