Saturday, 22 March 2014

Queen Elizabeth SPEAKS NOW (or does she?)





Last July (2013), Queen Elizabeth II gave her Royal assent to a Bill that gave gay, lesbian, bi and trans people the right to marry in England and Wales.  Now, in March 2014, she has given her signature to Scotland's marriage equality bill. Whatta dame!

Contrary to the fears expressed by Australian politicians and church leaders, under the new laws churches and other authorising bodies can choose to 'opt in' to allow weddings for same sex-couples to be held on their sacred premises but they are not compelled to do so.  Things are much simpler in countries where marriage is regarded legally as a civil ceremony, with the church fandango an optional ceremony.  (Perhaps this is why so many ostensibly 'Catholic' countries have long since granted full equality to queer folk with respect to marriage.)

The question remains (as posed by Australian Marriage Equality.org): Could Her Maj have done anything else?  According to the UK constitution, she is obliged to sign off on laws passed by 'Her' government.  Were she to demur, it would create a crisis.

AME noted that in all her years as head of the Commonwealth of nations, the Queen has never mentioned gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people.  In fact, as lobby group All Out uncomfortably noted, in 36 of the 54 member nations of the Commonwealth such people are regularly persecuted, arrested, murdered and executed and many of the laws that underpin the persecution come from the colonial era, when British penal law was instituted.

In places like Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda and dozens of other former colonies (including Jamaica!), queer people aren't fighting for marriage, they are fighting for their lives.

Perhaps the Queen is content with a largely ceremonial role, but there are calls for a real leader to speak now to address these wrongs.

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