As you may have heard, Australia is holding a costly postal survey on marriage equality.
Almost 80% of Australians have posted their opinions on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Overseas Aussies could vote online or by phone.
The polls closed a couple of weeks ago and the results are coming out on Wednesday (is there an emoji for ‘Holy Gaga, please let it be ‘yes’?).
While the polls were open I spent most of my non-work hours campaigning pretty hard in favour of marriage equality. Even the vast majority of stories I’ve written on for Gay Star News since mid-September have been about the postal survey.
But in October I jetted off for a month-long work trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan. It was a fantastic trip where I got to connect with amazing LGBTI heroes from across region.
Postal survey guilt
I’ll admit, being out of Australia while the postal survey polls were open was a weight off my shoulders. It was great to escape the ongoing (often nasty) debate.
But I did feel guilty about not being on the ground working hard for the Yes Campaign.
Inspired by London’s #giveozahug event, I decided to throw a ‘Vote Yes’ party in Hong Kong. It was to encourage expats and Aussies in Hong Kong to either; register to get an access code to vote or vote.
At any one time, millions of Australians are living, working or travelling overseas, with significant expat communities in cities like London and New York.
Hong Kong is another hotspot destination for Aussies, there’s more than 100,000 living and working there.
Expats to the rescue
Having never been to Hong Kong or even hosted an event like this, I reached out to the leaders of expat groups Hong Kong Aussies and Kennedy Town Expats to help with the promotion of the event.
So many people who had never helped me, threw their support behind me to find a venue, promote the event and make it all happen.
Given that I didn’t really know anyone in Hong Kong before I landed and cold called people for support, I was blown away by how many people gave me a hand to make this happen.
Apple Hong Kong were very helpful and loaned us six iPad Minis for people to use to register or to vote yes. These were invaluable as they made the process much more streamlined.
Mr Wolf, a newly opened Australian restaurant gave us a space right at the front of their establishment to hold our voting station.
Courtney Price was one of the attendees who said she wanted to help get the yes vote.
‘I believe in marrying who you love. And was happy to support,’ she told Gay Star News.
All you need is love
Even though the turnout was impressive, many more people who were unable to attend contacted organizers to find out how to vote.
Word of mouth about the event also led non-Aussies to ask their Australian friends and colleagues if they’d voted.
My effort was small compared to the official campaigns, but it warmed my heart to see so many people help in one way or another to help get marriage equality over the line in Australia.
Thanks everyone for your support!