We can’t deny how the world has changed over the past century. Looking back on old photos of the not-so-distant past, it is easy to tell how time has changed in the way people look and the surroundings itself. If there is one thing that has surpassed the test of time, though, it is the people’s faith in their religion. Religion has been the most enduring of all and today’s people still profess their faith and stay true to its teachings. But over the years, we have also witnessed the many changes in people’s perspective. And now, same-sex marriage is already practiced in many countries but does one’s religion really support it?
Most organized religions actually condone same-sex marriage. Just the very idea of a person legally marrying the opposite sex is a ludicrous idea and goes against the teachings of the Church. So, it is but understandable if the Church does not plan on ever giving its go signal and openly condemns those who get married to anyone from the same sex. However, advocates of the LGBTQ community are saying that not allowing same-sex marriage is essentially a violation of a person’s human right to get married even if society, in general, is mainly a heterosexual community.
Conservative religious organisations and politicians have played a major role in preventing the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia and hope to do so again.
John Howard cited conservative religious views when he banned same-sex marriage. Labor’s fear of losing religious voters to the Liberals contributed to concessions to the religious right, and saw it oppose same-sex marriage until 2011. Even then, Labor MPs opposed to same-sex marriage were granted an initial moral conscience vote that contributed to a parliamentary vote being lost under the Gillard government.
Now, Malcolm Turnbull’s fear of alienating the religious right in the Coalition has seen him agree to a plebiscite he previously opposed.
However, religious groups are making a noise once more as the number of countries, states, and cities supporting same-sex marriage has considerably grown over the years. It’s not that easy to stop them now as the public seems to be okay with it and tolerant of the growing number of married homosexual couples. Even famous personalities take advantage of this growing public acceptance and openly flaunt their marriage for everyone to see.
One thing is certain. The issues surrounding religious freedom in a society which recognises same-sex marriage will not be fully resolved any time soon. Some argue that these issues should be resolved before the public votes in a compulsory plebiscite or voluntary postal survey. I can see that opponents of same-sex marriage might want to insist on this, and that supporters of same-sex marriage might regard this as a time delaying tactic. I could vote “yes” in a survey while hoping and demanding that the parliament do the hard work on religious freedoms when considering amendments to the Marriage Act. It is important to appreciate that the legal and policy changes needed to protect religious freedom would not appear in the Marriage Act but in other statutes such as the Sex Discrimination Act.
Different places follow different laws and they also have differing interpretations of the church’s teaching. It is a known fact how homophobic the Church is in general and how they can’t accept the very thought of someone marrying the same sex but not everyone agrees nowadays even if they belong to a religion that is not accepting of this novel idea. The law is full of loopholes itself and haven’t addressed certain aspects that remain the cause of debate today but only time can tell how the Church, the different governments all over the world, and the society at large will react and see same-sex marriage in the years to come – whether it will be part of the norm or something that will persist to be a source of conflict.