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Human Rights Advocacy

Write an essay on how best same sex couples can be protected and looked after in Australia.

Sample Answer

The concept of same sex marriage in Australia is one that is hotly debated, with the government on several occasions have refused to legalize gay marriage in many different states. Yet what remains unchanged is the fact that Australia as a country is home to many same sex couples, all of whom tend to express their love as freely as openly as possible and require the consent of the government in order to be able to live together legally, just like man and wife, the way conventional couples do. Homosexuality has been present in human beings and in animals since time immemorial (Joslin, 2017). The perception of homosexuality as something that is perverse and which deserves to be shunned or looked down upon, is a rigid and conservative view which the Australian government cannot afford to take, if it is to suitably administer large populations of queer or same sex couples who are simply yearning for the right to be heard and to live the way that they desire (White, 2015). A case study analysis reveals how difficult it was for a gay couple in Sydney to obtain the consent of the government around six years ago, to acquire the permission to get married. This assignment outlines the case study details and concludes with recommendations as to how best same sex couples can be protected and looked after in Australia, in the event that they face any discrimination from government authorities or even from civil society.

Case Study
On the 5th of June, 2012, in Sydney, Australia, a gay couple, Sam Peterson and Michael George decided that they had lived together with each other as partners long enough and that the time had come for them to exchange vows and live their lives as a married couple. Sam Peterson worked as a doctor while Michael George was a lawyer by profession. Being a legal professional, Michael George was well aware of the rigid stance of the Australian government at the time towards same sex marriages. Even then, he advised his partner to take a chance and to approach the nearest parish in their vicinity to get married just like conventional couples would. They met with resistance every step of the way, at times feeling compelled to let go and surrender instead of continuing with their efforts.

To begin with, Sam Peterson and Michael George were denied vehemently at the parish that they approached, the right to be married under Roman Catholic tenets. Being devout Christians , the couple wanted to get married by following all religious protocols and conventions, but were denied the right to do so by the clergymen whom they approached over the matter. Sam Peterson and Michael George continued to try their luck at other parishes and churches in Sydney for help and support in this matter but to no avail. Out of sheer desperation, the same sex couple even reached out to a Jewish rabbi in the hope that he would help them out in this respect, but he too denied the couple their respect.

After facing a lot of rejections from religious authorities, Michael George decided that the time had come to reach out for legal support on this matter. Firstly, it was decided that a petition would be submitted in one of the district courts of Sydney to acquire a license that would enable the same sex couple to get married under the supervision of legal counsels, with a priest being present on the occasion as well to grant them their blessings. All the petitions that were submitted by Michael George for this purpose were rejected, with none of the city courts being willing to grant the couple the legal license needed to get married. The matter was taken up by well known gay rights activists and lawyers in Sydney, who tried their level best to push the matter to apex courts, just so that the incident could be recognized and a solution provided. What kept coming in the way of Sam Peterson and Michael George’s efforts, is the fact that the government was not inclined to support same sex marriage, and since it wasn’t, there was no social or legal institution in the city, or any religious institution for that matter that was willing to support the marriage of Sam Peterson and Michael George. The same sex couple tried their luck in other Australian cities and towns as well, but were not successful in their efforts, as the social, political, legal and religious institutions in these cities and towns also held rigid views on the matter, largely because of the fact that the issue of gay marriage was not something that was regarded positively by the government of Australia at the time.

Case Study Analysis
It is evident from the above case study analysis, that the fact that the Australian government was not supportive of same sex marriage had an important role to play in Sam Peterson and Michael George not being successful in their efforts to get married. While they loved each other deeply and were able to reside together in a civil union, they could not get married in the religious or in the legal sense, in spite of being conventional, well to do, religious and conscientious citizens who wanted to abide by all the rules and regulations of the government (Franklin, 2014). Even the support provided by the gay rights activities and other members of the civil society did not come to the aid of the same sex couple as they tried desperately to become a couple in the religious and legal sense, instead of being together only as partners. This is because the legal and the constitutional framework that was in place at the time, did not give counsels and government authorities for that matter, the permission or the scope to give gay marriage, the dignity, the sanction and the legal status that it deserved in the most rightful sense (Fejes, 2016).

The case study also reveals that no attempt was made on the part of legal authorities and the clergy in Sydney, as well as in the other cities and towns that Sam Peterson and Michael George approached in order to get married, to protest against the rigid stand of the government on the subject of gay marriage (White, 2015). Had some opinions been expressed very strongly, had efforts been made to go against the diktats of the government, even at the risk of facing legal or penal action upon doing so, is something that could have gone a long way in fighting the conservative stand of the government (Rhodebeck, 2015). Sam Peterson and Michael George had the empathy of civil society and humanitarian activists who tried to bring the matter to light as much as possible, but they did not get the backing of the legal and religious institutions in the country to give them the status that they were looking for. What this case study makes all the more evident is that it is the government and the government alone that can bring about a change in the lives of the same sex people living on its light by introducing new and progressive religious and legal measures that recognize and acknowledge the existence of homosexuality and give it the sanction of approval or legalization that it so terribly needs (McLean, 2017).

Recommendations For Protecting The Human Rights Of Same Sex Couples
There are a number of different ways by which the rights of same sex couples can be suitably guarded.

New definitions of de-facto relationships and de-facto partners can be introduced in the federal law. Both definitions should be those that cover a number of important aspects such as inclusiveness, flexibility, consistency and evidentiary guideline (Asal & Sommer, 2016).
The law of the land should be one that recognizes the legal status of children who are adopted by same sex couples. This will not only give same sex couples the incentive to have children and create families in the same way that heterosexual couples do, but will also help in creating a legal basis for marriage. When a court of law sees a gay couple successfully raising children in a safe and caring environment, where the children are nurtured and loved, then the same court will be encouraged, or rather, will have every reason to accord this couple the right to get married under the laws of the land (Cain, 2018).
An understanding of homosexuality and what it entails should make its way into the law of the land. Efforts should be made not to stigmatize homosexuality by considering it to be yet another form of sexuality that people relate to identify with rather than deeming it as something illegal, and more importantly, as something that is against God and nature (Carbado, 2017).
There should be a proliferation of civil society organizations or institutions that will work actively to make sure that gay rights are recognized as much as possible all over the country and that gay couples get the platforms needed to express their voices and their dissent as and when they want to (Engel, 2018).
Protection should be provided by law and order authorities to same sex couples who feel particularly vulnerable in neighborhoods where the population is predominantly heterosexual, rigid and conservative, and where attempts are often made to harm gay and lesbian couples in some form of the other. Such law and order protection should be made available round the clock so that gay couples can call on such support as and when they require it, in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe (Fejes, 2016).
Efforts should be made on the part of legislators in the country to recommend penal action being taken against those who actively try to harm gay and lesbian couples. Same sex couples should be protected in the same way that people are protected from issues such as racism. There should be every attempt made on the part of law and order authorities to come to the aid of same sex couples in the event that they are being physically harmed or attacked and strict action being imposed on those try to harm them in the first place (Galligan & Morton, 2017).
Civil society, legislators and human rights organizations in particular need to foster awareness about gay and lesbian rights, so that people are duly made aware of the fact that these are human rights, and are not meant to be violated. Film makers and artists need to come to the fore and spread awareness about gay rights, so that people are naturally made to understand that such rights deserve being protected and that same sex couples are not to be targeted or harmed as they are not doing anyone any wrong by showing or expression their love and affection (Maclean, 2017).
Gay rights law needs to be made a subject as a part of all curriculum and coursework related to legal disciplines. Those enrolling in law schools should be allowed to take up gay rights law or same sex laws as a subject of specialization so that they can practice this in a court of law in the future. By making same sex law an important subject of study, gay rights and lesbian rights can be sufficiently protected, especially if such a law is allowed to be practiced at the district, local and national levels all at the same time. (Joslin, 2017).
Counseling centers need to be set up that will specialize in providing gay couples or same sex couples with the therapy that they require in the event that they go through trauma after being discriminated against. This will help gay couples to fight the challenges that they face and will also play a role in defending their rights and their status in society. Gay people are human beings just like everyone else and they have the right to turn to counselors or mental health professionals who can give them the clinical support that they need to combat their anxiety, depression and trauma, among other issues (Hunter, 2017).
Thus, protecting same sex couple rights is something that is absolutely imperative if society is to progress and to advance in the best way possible. It is only when the government of a country recognizes the rights and the status of each and every one of its citizens, that it can be regarded as doing a capable job of protecting them and of being a good government in general. Sexual minorities such as same sex couples deserve the right to be acknowledged in the society in which they live, and to be accorded the same rights or legalities that are granted to heterosexual people. Gay love is as rightful as beautiful as conventional love and gay couples need all the support from the government and from legal authorities to take recourse to measures and mechanisms that will give them some status in society. By allowing same sex couples to get married, a government will suitably look into the interests of its gay population, ensuring that their human rights and dignity are well preserved and protected and that no harm will come to them simply because of their desire and intention to express their love for one another.

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Cain, P. (2018). Rainbow Rights. Routledge

Carbado, D. W. (2017). Black rights, gay rights, civil rights. InSexuality and Equality Law (pp. 305-328). Routledge.

Encarnación, O. G. (2016). Out in the periphery: Latin America's gay rights revolution. Oxford University Press

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Fejes, F. (2016). Gay rights and moral panic: The origins of America's debate on homosexuality. Springer

Franklin, C. (2014). Marrying Liberty and Equality: The New Jurisprudence of Gay Rights. Virginia Law Review, 817-891.

Galligan, B., & Morton, F. T. (2017). Australian exceptionalism: Rights protection without a bill of rights. InProtecting Rights Without a Bill of Rights (pp. 27-50). Routledge.

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McLean, J. (2017). Legislative Invalidation, Human Rights Protection and s 4 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. InBills of Rights (pp. 237-264). Routledge

Mehra, B., & Hernandez, L. (2016). Libraries as agents of human rights protection and social justice on behalf of sexual minorities in India: An action-based manifesto for progressive change. In Perspectives on Libraries as Institutions of Human Rights and Social Justice (pp. 147-182). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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White, H. R. (2015). Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the rise of gay rights. UNC Press Books

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