by Phil Duncan

The postal plebiscite in Australia on gay marriage has returned almost exactly the same result as the actual referendum in the south of Ireland in 2015. Basically 62% Yes, 38% No.

The Yes vote across the ditch was a tiny fraction below the Yes vote in Ireland and the No vote there was a tiny fraction above the No vote in Ireland.  Also, in Ireland it was a binding referendum; in Australia it was just a plebiscite.  Nevertheless it seems that by the New Year gay women and men will have the same right to marry as straight women and men.

It’s a victory for human progress and equality.

But it is also a sign that the ruling class, certainly in the imperialist heartlands, has no interest in continuing to discriminate against gay women and men. It’s not just that the progessive movement is pushing for marriage equality; the reality is that they are pushing against an already-opening door.

It’s all a long way from the early days of the gay liberation movement.

Just a few decades ago Australian cops were batoning and beating peaceful gay rights protesters off the streets.  These days cops march in Gay Pride festivals and flaunt their good relations with the ‘gay community’, the cross-class and largely state-friendly and business-friendly sector which has replaced the left-wing and militant gay liberation movement of earlier days.

Once upon a time, the ruling elites in these countries favoured a whole series of discriminatory laws and also partly regulated the market.  These days, ruling elites prefer not to maintain those old forms of discrimination against women, homosexuals, ethnic minorities – they are even moving on trans issues (at present perhaps the last bastion of discrimination).

Today, the ruling class prefers to let the market decide on discrimination, rather than having formal laws in terms of which citizens can and can’t be discriminated against. (And, of course, migrant workers, not being citizens, will continue to be at the mercy of guarded borders, passports, cops, and the whole repressive apparatus of the capitalist state.)

So while the plebiscite outcome in Australia is a victory for human rights and social progress, it isn’t one that inflicts any damage at all on capitalism or the ruling class. After same-sex marriage rights are passed into law, the capitalist system will go on its merry way, continuing to inflict exploitation, oppression, alienation and general misery across the globe, particularly in the Third World.  And the gay section of the capitalist class will be just as ruthless in doing so as the straight section.


  1. Don Franks says:

    Yes, this is good news. Its a far cry from the old protest days when “gay” was seen as some sort of shameful perversion.
    The position of women has not improved much in reality. Women still do most of the shit paid jobs and work a double shift when they get home. Women’s status in all sorts of areas is still second class. All sorts of historical inequity remains unresolved. This is not all down to capitalism, but a capitalist society has no spare energy or attention to work wholeheartedly for non profit turning social justice. The whole thrust is towards maximum profits. An anti capitalist movement is the ideal vehicle to begin redressing many historical social wrongs.

    • Mike says:

      So, Males having sex with males and females having sex with females is now considered to be normal human behavior. No it’s not.
      And don’t tell me humans are more advanced than other animals as that’s total crap too.