Marriage equality in Australia: The ‘no’ vote and symbolic violence

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sociology, 2020, 56, (4), pp. 664-674
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Until December 2017, there were no legal provisions within the Commonwealth of Australia for same-sex couples to marry in the same sense that their heterosexual friends and family can. Civil unions provide similar legal protections as marriage, but many argue that this is not enough – that same-sex couples occupy a ‘second-class’ citizen status in relation to marriage. Many jurisdictions globally recognise marriage equality: the UK, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, to name but a few globally, and those societies most similar to Australia’s. This article explores the attitudes towards elements of marriage equality among a group of gay men in Australia. Despite the ‘yes’ vote for marriage equality polling about two-thirds of eligible voters, a slew of symbolically violent messages appeared, including ‘Vote No’ skywritten across the emblematic Sydney Harbour, and ‘Vote no to faggots’ graffiti etched across Sydney train carriages. The importance of love is key in defence against this symbolic violence.
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