Hey Australians: Buy Your LGBTQI+ Friends Lunch to Protest the Plebiscite (#IllBuyYouLunch)

Adelaide’s Rainbow Walk; picture by SBS

Today the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced 11th February 2017 as the date of the Same-Sex Marriage plebiscite, a non-binding national vote to find out whether the Australian voting populace are in favour of same-sex marriage rights or not.

The plebiscite has come under fire from politicians, activists, and others: Opposition (Labor) leader Bill Shorten says that the plebiscite could bring up messaging that would be harmful and life-threatening to gay youth, Liberal (party in power, think the Australian version of the Republicans)’s first openly-gay senator Dean Smith says he is willing to “cross the floor” to vote against the plebiscite, and La Trobe University Professorial Fellow in Human Security Dennis Altman claims that this is just delaying the parliamentary vote allowing same-sex couples to wed. (Australian Marriage Equality has a pretty in-depth factsheet about the plebiscite and their opposition to it.)

While the Government was discussing the plebiscite in Parliament this afternoon, SBS Comedy published an article by Rebecca Shaw (whom you might recognise from the WomanAgainstFeminism parody Twitter account) promising “very scientific pie charts” about the plebiscite.

One pie chart in particular caught my eye:

As an LGBTQI person currently based in Australia, I am all for nice lunches. Especially on someone else’s dime. This chart made me wonder: how much would lunch cost for one Australian LGBTQI person if paid with plebiscite funding?

Firstly, let’s get some numbers. There’s actually a discrepancy in the amount of funding: this pie chart stats $12 million, news reports from today’s meeting state that both the Yes and No camps will receive $7.5 million each to fund their messaging, and around $160-$170 million has been allocated on the Budget for this plebiscite.

Let’s go with the middle number: $15 million.

Now let’s find the number of LGBTQI people in Australia. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, “Australians of diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity may account for up to 11 per cent of the Australian population.

What’s 11% of the Australian population? The ABS Population Clock projects that at the time this piece was written (13 Sept 2016, 7:57pm Melbourne/Canberra time), the population is projected to be 24,187,399 people.

11% of 24,187,399 people is 2,660,613.89 people — let’s round that up to 2,660,614 people.

$15 million distributed to 2,660,614 people equals around $5.64 per person.

The same-sex marriage messaging funding could buy just over $5 worth of lunch for each LGBTQ person in Australia.

The Australian Government isn’t likely to buy anyone lunch anytime soon though —

but YOU can!

Here’s a call to arms, particularly for the 89% of the Australian population who are not of “diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity”:

Buy lunch for the LGBTQI people in your life, around $5.64 each.

What can you buy in Australia for lunch at that price? Admittedly, not a ton, but there are some options.

Ikea has a 5 Meals for 5 Bucks special— so you can take a whole posse of LGBTQI friends along:

Five Thousand has tons of options for $5 or under dining in Adelaide — gyros, dumplings, bahn mi, calzones, and many others. Meanwhile, GoodFood has a similar list for Melbourne, including pastries and sushi.

The Soda Factory in Surry Hills has sides from $6 to $8 each:

McDonalds, KFC, Red Rooster, Hungry Jacks, Nandos, Pie Face, Guzman y Gomez, and other fast food places also have options around that price range.

Let’s take it a notch further. Let’s take the budgeted amount: $160 million.

Using the same calculations, $160 million distributed to 2,660,614 people equals around $60.14 per person.

$60 LUNCH ZOMG!!!

You could go totally fancypants for lunch with that kind of money. Go to somewhere like Le Mistral, Rockpool, or Hilton’s Dock 37, get an entree or main, and still have money leftover for a dessert or drink (or both). Go for a buffet lunch at Four Winds or The Star and eat to your heart’s content. Gosh, you could even head to one of those places that don’t put prices on the menu.

Seafood Buffet at The Intercontinental Sydney for $65!

You could also donate the price of that meal — whether $5 or $60 — to organisations around Australia that provide support and advocacy services for LGBTQI communities, including (sometimes) food. Some of these include:

and many, many more working across Australia, both rural and urban.

The Same-Sex Marriage plebiscite is already causing distress for the Australian LGBTQI communities, bracing themselves against an all-out attack on their lives and identities (especially when backed with $7.5 million).

Buying someone lunch may seem minor, but building connection is important and deeply helpful, especially when done one on one. Too often, non-LGBTQI people seem to regard us as statistics, especially during things like these plebiscites: we’re theory, we’re faceless, we’re not real. The simple action of treating someone to a meal can bring a sense of humanity; you know us well enough to get us food. We’re real to you. And our interaction can help you make the right decision if and when the plebiscite comes around.

Also, food is well-regarded across the world as a means of community-building. Having lunch as the avenue to get to know your LGBTQI friends, colleagues, students, family members, neighbours, or anyone else better is just part of a long-standing near-universal tradition.

In the spirit of #IllRideWithYou, I would like to tag this #IllBuyYouLunch. Tag your offers of nice lunch and share your stories. Please share this piece and this idea along, especially to the 89% of Australians who would generally be unaffected by this plebiscite but can do a lot to support us most affected. I’d love to see this catch on.

(Also, I am almost always available for lunch, and will eat just about anything.)

UPDATE: Our first success story!

Amazing.

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