As I opened social media this morning I was bombarded with posts about the results of the Same Sex Marriage vote in Australia. 61% voted 'Yes', meaning that the government will now seek to amend the law to allow same sex couples to marry.
I was personally disappointed with the result, but not surprised.
While thinking about what this would mean for my home nation of Australia, I couldn’t help but reflect back on how the campaign played out.
Now living in the UK, I watched the debate from afar and was shocked as those who indicated they would vote 'No' were physically and verbally attacked, their lives threatened and employment terminated.
The above photo is just one example of a church being attacked. Slogans such as 'bash the bigots' and 'crucify "no" voters' were graffitied onto church buildings across the country.
The 'Yes' campaign said they were in favour of equality and love. But the actions of some of the campaign's supporters tell a very different story. We should remember the 'No' campaign was never about being anti-LGBT, but about the threat to traditional marriage.
One of the things I’m most proud of being an Aussie is that we are all about giving people a 'fair go'. I was taught to let people have their say. I didn’t have to agree, but I had to respect their opinion; something that seems to have been forgotten recently.
This campaign has major significance in Australia but I’m saddened about the message it might be communicating.
Are we in danger of teaching our children that the way to get what you want is through violence, disrespect and bullying? I can understand why many are celebrating the result. But surely we can't celebrate the way this result was achieved?
It also shouldn't be forgotten that 40% voted 'No'. Will their views about marriage still be protected, or will those who believe in traditional marriage continue to be hounded and harassed?
There are many other important issues currently being debated in Australia including asylum seekers, euthanasia and environmental care. We must not give people permission to repeat the bad behaviour we've seen in these future political campaigns.
The well-known passage in 1 Corinthians 13 says "Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
My hope is that we choose love in its purest form. That we are patient, kind, respectful and tolerant. That we debate and fight for what we truly believe in, while respecting each other and finding a solution that demonstrates to the rest of that world that Australia really is about giving people a ‘fair go’.
Let’s teach our children to respect each other in spite of our differences and fight for a better world without our humanity being the cost.
Every week in school assemblies across the nation, Australian children sing "Australian’s all let us rejoice, for we are young and free…". Let’s choose to live that out by creating an environment that allows people to express their opinions and fight for what they believe in without fear of consequence. Let’s encourage the generations to truly be free and live in harmony.
That to me is true equality and true love.
Emma Aylett is Australian by birth and English by choice. She lives in Buckinghamshire and is a fundraising project manager for Premier.