It’s inevitable! Well no, about the only thing that is inevitable, is the claim that it’s inevitable.

Australia (Federally) and Tasmania are having seemingly endless debates over same sex marriage, and euthanasia.  Neither are inevitable, and the “tide of change” is also illusory.

Same sex marriage is largely without precedent until the very late 20C.  Recognition of same sex unions is relatively common (or perhaps more accurately not unusual) across a range of cultures and history, but even in cultures that were very open to (male) homosexuality, those cultures did not then extend marriage beyond “a man and a woman”.

From the 1980s various western jurisdictions have extended some (or in a few cases all) legal rights of “marriage” without the need for any definitional change to marriage, to couples regardless of the gender of each party.  Australia included in this list.  Without controversy and with all party support over the last 10 years or so any and all relationship issues in Australian Federal legislation has systematically had any gender wording removed.  Their remains a process (and committee I think) that will deal with any future identified issues in Federal legislation and remove the gendered-ness.

From 2001 The Netherlands has had same sex marriage.  Since then Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand have all enacted same sex marriage legislation.

While it is an impressive list, there still remains more of the world living with marriage laws which are novel and unwanted to most (but not all) Australian citizens.  Polygamy is far more widely legal today than same sex marriage, and has far greater claim to religious, cultural and historical precedent.  Arranged marriage, child marriage, and cousin marriage are still legal and practiced in parts of the world roughly equal to or greater than that which operates with same sex marriage. 

As a micro-oddity of marriage practice though not law, I’ve come across what I think is an idiosyncratic though pragmatic practice of brother polyandry (multiple brothers as husbands of one wife).  It is still till this day an occurrence in some very very poor communities, with all offspring being the legal children of the oldest husband, and younger brothers moving out and marrying as/if economics allows.

I think the claim that same sex marriage is “inevitable” is curious, and unsupportable, if recognisably a tactic of advocacy.

Similarly euthanasia is claimed to be “inevitable”. 

Columbia has decriminalised consensual euthanasia of the terminally ill by court judgement, (common law precedent) and Switzerland allows prescribing of lethal drugs, requires the recipient to be active in their taking, but considers assisting suicide a crime only if the motive is selfish.

Euthanasia legislation has been passed in Belgium and the Netherlands (2002) and Luxemburg (2008).  Euthanasia legislation has also been passed in 4 states in USofA (Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Montana).

I am not considering so called passive euthanasia, double effect, or declining further medical treatment as in Australia there is no legislative confusion about these issues, and they are largely non controversial – that is they are all legal, and normal practice.  Very many jurisdictions globally have legislation covering these three topics which are related to, but distinctly different from, active euthanasia.

(Active) Euthanasia legislation has been put (to the best of my research) at least 120 times in various national, and state/provincial/regional districts but been passed (and kept) in just the 7 jurisdictions noted above.

There is a little side bar that the Northern Territory did also pass (active) euthanasia legislation under which 3 citizens ended their lives before the Federal Government intervened and removed the legislation – only possible because NT is a territory not a state of Australia.

Euthanasia remains, even today, a legally rare practice around the globe.  It is overwhelming rejected when legislation is proposed (somewhat less than 10% of the time legislation is passed).  It is not inevitable, or some tide of change sweeping the western world.

Proponents should be allowed to argue, promote and put Same Sex Marriage Legislation and Euthanasia Legislation.  However to claim a “tide”, or inevitability, seems way beyond the reality.


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