Wednesday, 30 November 2011

It's share

There's been quite a bit of blog and twitter buzz surrounding a new campaign ad for same-sex marriage in Australia.  On a personal level, I didn't find myself too excited by the advert but then again, I live in a country with a comparatively high level of so called 'gay rights'.  The advert is carefully designed to promote commitment, and stray away from the legal rights debates elsewhere.  Nor will you see protesting, pink triangles and rainbow flags.  It's about promoting the 'normality' of same-sex relationships.  Those of you who read my HuffPo piece last week will see the anger that questioning this argument can evoke within the self-styled gay community where those rights do not presently exist.  Indeed - and I've said this before - it's a product of my privileged position that I can now criticise/analyse these issues.

The advert comes in the week that the Nigerian Senate used law to criminalise same-sex marriage and those who attempt to enter into it.  Homosexuality is already punishable with 14 years imprisonment but in a clear recognition that they don't currently lock-up all Nigerian homosexuals, this new law punishes those who try to enter into marriage with 14 years imprisonment and 10 years for witnesses.   Meanwhile, Russia continues to debate a new law which would - it is argued - prevent gay rights activists from assembling, protesting and discussing gay rights issues.  The Russian government intervened today to express puzzlement at the global criticism of these proposals - arguing that discrimination laws are in place.  It seems, in an eerie echo of the UK's very own Section 28 (now repealed) the law is designed to prevent the 'promotion' of homosexuality.  A law, which we know from Section 28, has wide implications in reality.  Is it 'to promote' homosexuality to say that homosexuality isn't bad, that there should be same-sex marriage? Services protection? Employment protection? Where is the line drawn?

From the privileged position of the UK, I found myself wondering if there's more we should be doing.  The British government has already said it won't send aid to countries such as Nigeria which reject rights for homosexuals (although where the line is drawn remains unclear).  More generally, we're pretty good at interfering in other countries  - sometimes with diplomacy, sometimes as we still see today, with jets, bombs and drones.

Concomitantly, campaign adverts are often about saying, let's change and this is why we should do so.  Rarely do they celebrate the complex reality of life after legal reform.  Here's a challenge for the UK - let's interfere.  Let's show the world the modern lived experiences of gay men, women and those who reject such labels.  Let's spend some of the international aid budget (which is currently funding the BBC world service among other things) on a low-cost advert that shows that the sky doesn't fall in when gay rights are introduced.  Let's show that's it's more complicated than the happy-clappy images of the Australian advert, but that life is complex, and still works well.   Yes, it's time; it's time to share our story.

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Elly said...

I already shared my story about this ad here:

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