Joy Baldwin 5827914
Over the last several years there has been a lot of controversy over gay marriage. In this essay the focus will be on the issues that have arisen such as discrimination, equality and individual rights, the countries that have already legalised or given equal rights to same sex couples living together, appear to be supportive to these people in their endeavours to be recognised as historically as heterosexual couples, allowing them to have autonomy within today’s society. We will discuss the views of former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the current Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as well as the controversy surrounding the views of the ACT and the Federal Government.
Heterosexism – like racism and sexism-describes an ideology that categorises and then unjustly dismisses as inferior a whole group of fellow citizens; in the case of heterosexism, the group are people who are not heterosexual. It has been institutionalised in laws, education, religions and language across the world. Attempts to enforce heterosexuality are as much a violation of human rights as racism and sexism, and are now increasingly challenged with equal determination. Homophobia is the fear of resulting contempt for homosexuals. The term was coined in the early 1970’s by an American psychiatrist George Weinberg, who defined it as the dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals (Weinberg, 1973). A number of researchers have suggested that people intolerant of homosexuals are likely to be more authoritarian, more dogmatic, more cognitively rigid, more intolerant of ambiguity, more status-conscious, more sexually rigid, more guilty and negative about their sexual impulses, and less accepting of others in general (Morin and Garfinkle, 1978). Even a major organisation for human rights such as Amnesty International came to recognise the problem of homophobia only in the decade of the twentieth century (previously refusing to see it as a problem). Nevertheless, in recent report, it showed that there are more than seventy countries with laws that criminalise homosexual acts, and a few of these-including Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Chechnya have the death penalty for gay sex. Torture is common to extract confessions of ‘deviance’, gays are raped to ‘cure them of it’, and they are sometimes killed by death squads (Amnesty International, 2001).
‘Queer theory’, as lesbians, gays and bisexuals have ‘come out’, and become both more visible and more accepted within the mainstream of many Western societies, so their voices have increasingly entered sociology and social science debates. There has been a growth of lesbians and gay studies, which have been especially influential in the sociological study of sexualities (Plummer, 1992). In the late 1980s a new approach, queer theory, argued that most sociological theory still has a bias towards ‘heterosexuality’ and the non-heterosexual voices need to be heard. Such theorists would argue that all topics discussed in this book-from stratification and ethnicity, to religion and economy-would greatly enhanced if the position of ‘non-heterosexual voices’ were placed at the centre. For example, it suggests that many religions have been organised around ‘homophobic’ persecutions; that a new form of economy is emerging that is based upon the spending power of middle-class gay men-the pink economy; and that experience of being lesbian or gay can differ significantly across different ethnic minority communities (Seidman, 1996). New insights can be provided for all the traditional concerns of sociology once we give a focus to a different group such as ‘queers’. Queer theory started to emerge around the mid to late 1980s. The roots of queer theory are usually seen in the work of Eve Kasofsky Sedgwick who argued that: many of the major nodes of thought and