Julia Gillard has had a rough few days. More accurately weeks, well, months. Let’s face it, years. And at the centre of so many of her travails has been debate about her gender. She’s been called a witch, deliberately barren, asked if her partner is gay and been the subject of a “joke” menu where a dish was described, with misogynistic cruelty, in terms of parts of her anatomy.
But for all Gillard’s outrage about the language and attitudes she faces, there’s a rather large elephant siting in her office in The Lodge which she seems to determined to ignore: she’s just as guilty of discrimination herself, the only difference being that instead of differentiating between people on because of their gender, she does so on their sexuality.
Until she changes her position on marriage equality anything she has to say on gender, discrimination or equality can only be taken as political posturing. In many ways marriage equality is a relatively minor issue in the larger drama of Australian political life. But on another level it is central to any evaluation of Julia Gillard’s leadership.
Equality of any kind is always important but that’s not why it matters at the moment. It matters because it speaks directly to the question of trust. It speaks to who will be valued and who will be cast aside by our political leaders. It shows us who the PM thinks is expendable.