Happy Mardi Gras – But Is It Still Illegal Somewhere To Be Gay?

Tomorrow is the Mardi Gras Parade! One of my favourite times of the year. However, this celebration is one loaded with conflicts and opinions. Everyone has their say, politics comes into action, and sometimes I feel we forget just how lucky we are to be living in a country where we are even able to have such a celebration. There are arguments that the parade is too commercial or it is not what it used to be, but let’s go back to the basics and look at the bigger picture rather than feathers, flyers and floats.


Consensual homosexual acts between adults are illegal in about 70 out of 195 counties, and some are still punishable by death. And I’m sure in those countries they do not have a Mardi Gras! In a time when we are in the fight of our lives for same sex marriage, maybe we need to remember how far we have come as a country. It’s hard to think that in my lifetime, homosexuality was illegal in parts of this country I call home.


We might be close to a man and man or a woman and woman walking down the isle to say ‘till death do us part’, but in those countries where the consensual sexual act of two same sex people is considered illegal, just think how far they are away from a same sex ‘I do’?


I think we should have same sex marriage in Australia, but I also think we need to spare a thought for those who might never see this choice!


It’s hard to believe that something that comes so naturally for so many, could be against the law. (It’s like if someone told me it was illegal to eat chocolate). Male homosexuality was decriminalised in the Australian Capital Territory in 1976 in South Australia in 1975 and Victoria in 1981. Western Australia legalised male homosexuality in 1989, as did New South Wales and The Northern Territory in 1984. Tasmania was the last state to decriminalise sodomy in 1997.


As someone who is a born and bread Queenslander now residing in New South Wales, I still find it so hard to believe that the age of consent for anal sex in Queensland today, is higher at 18 as opposed to 16 for both oral and vaginal sex. Why should an opposite sex couple be ready for sex any earlier than a same sex couple? Why should the laws in QLD be any different to that in NSW or VIC? Even though we have decriminalised homosexuality, we still need to look at why there is an age discrepancy.


The laws pertaining to homosexuality are inconsistent across the globe. In China, (a communist country) sodomy was never explicitly criminalised. Private sex in any form between two consenting adults does not violate laws. (That’s great but exhibitionists are down the creek). Apparently, those in Iceland early on found ways to keep warm. Homosexuality has been legal there since 1940. Maybe it’s the pizza, the pasta or the wine but in Italy (a catholic country), same sex intercourse between consenting adults, as well as anal sex between heterosexual partners above the legal age of consent, has not been a crime since 1870. So divorce is frowned upon but anal sex between two men is legal!


This next one really surprised me, but in North Korea (another communist country) no laws regarding homosexuality are known to exist and the North Korean Government states they “respect” homosexuals, however, they reject western gay culture. (Well that makes sense, it’s ok to be gay as long as you do not wear short shorts and listen to Kylie).


However in Malaysia, Section 377 of the penal code (he he I wrote penal) prohibits heterosexual and homosexual sodomy with punishments including up to twenty years in prison and/or fines and flogging. A similar punishment we would expect in Australia for someone who murdered another person (I’m talking about the prison time not flogging).


No one can ever stop you loving someone else, no matter who they are. Love is something that is untouchable in so many ways. No one can truly control your feelings for another, but what they can do it stop you from acting on those feelings, on that love, whether sexually or legally. I don’t think anyone should be able to control one’s sexuality at all (as long as they are not hurting anyone else). Why should anyone have a right to control what comes some naturally? Are there legal guidelines for when to breath, eat, or sleep? Well then why are there legal guidelines to how we love?


If you are marching in this year’s parade, standing on the side or even hear about it on TV, instead of criticising someone’s outfit, float decorations or organisation of the event itself, take a moment to be thankful we live in a country where Mardi Gras can take place!


Happy Mardi Gras,


Dr NikkiG

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