EDITORIAL: Why we are voting Yes

Tomorrow, Australians will be given the opportunity to take another step on the road to reconciliation as we cast our votes in the referendum on Indigenous recognition in the constitution and the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

OUTinPerth co-editors and co-owners Graeme Watson and Leigh Andrew Hill will both be voting Yes, decisively, at the booth tomorrow.

As a publication with a mission to support and connect LGBTIQA+ people, we recognise our community is stronger and more beautiful in its diversity.

We acknowledge those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of diverse sexuality or gender among us. Sistergirls and Brotherboys, iconic queer Elders who have pioneered social change and law reform in this place, and powerful young advocates following in their footsteps and carving new paths.

We are grateful for the valuable friendships and conversations we’ve had over many years with many members of our wider community on issues affecting Aboriginal people.

We thank Jim Morrison from Queers for Reconciliation, Dameyon Bonson from Black Rainbow, Professor Braden Hill, the crew from Noongar Radio’s Rainbow Kinection, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Narelda Jacobs, and many others for their guidance, wisdom and knowledge sharing.

As a community-focused outlet we know that to best serve our community, the least we can do is listen. What we have heard is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people overwhelmingly support the Voice to Parliament.

As queer people, we understand that community consultation and lived experience will always inform better results for our communities. We understand that representation and visibility are powerful tools for social change and mental wellbeing.

We also understand how it feels to be forced to ask for permission from those who should never have been empowered to give it, but it’s important to identify that while there are similarities, this referendum is not the same as the marriage equality plebiscite.

Many of us will never experience racism, will never feel the generational trauma of colonisation, will never understand the pain of stolen generations, but we should not need to see ourselves to show empathy.

Without allies standing with in solidarity, LGBTIQA+ people would not have the rights we are afforded today, nor will we see progress on the slow-moving law reform we’re fighting for tomorrow. Now is our opportunity to stand together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and say Yes.

We’re proud to join many LGBTIQA+ organisations in calling for a new approach. Pride WA, Living Proud WA, Just.Equal, Equality Australia, The Equality Project, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, ASHM, LGBTIQA+ Health Australia, the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia, Health Equity Matters and Telethon Kids Institute are just a tiny sample of the groups advocating for a Yes vote.

Yes to recognising 65,000 years of proud, continuing culture. Yes to elevating Indigenous voices to inform better health and education outcomes. Yes to recognising the First Peoples of this nation in its founding legal document. Yes to a nation that’s committed to reconciliation, inclusion and truth-telling.

Yes to a better Australia for all of us.

The least we can do is listen.

Leigh Andrew Hill and Graeme Watson 

Declaration: Graeme Watson is also an employee of Edith Cowan University alongside Professor Braden Hill. 

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