If you’ve been following Channel 9’s reality TV show, Married at First Sight, you might remember the show’s first same-sex wedding occurred this week.
And in it’s wake a world of controversy has ignited.
If you’ve never watched it, Married at First Sight is exactly as the title suggests. Two strangers meet for the first time on their ‘wedding’ day after being matched by experts. While their ‘wedding’ isn’t a legally binding marriage, it serves as a commitment ceremony. The couples live together for a month and then choose whether to continue the relationship or not.
For the viewer it’s supposed to be as entertaining as reality TV shows can be. But advocates for same-sex marriage in Australia are far from amused.
When Channel 9 announced a same-sex couple would feature on the show earlier this year, same-sex marriage supporters lashed out.
Dr Kerryn Phelps slammed the show on social media, describing it as “a bloody insult”.
“What a bloody insult to those of us in committed long term same sex marriages who are not recognised under Australian law,” she wrote.
The founder of lobby group Australian Marriage Equality Rodney Croome echoed her comments, describing TV shows such as Married at First Sight as demonstrating a ‘double standard’.
“Many Australian same-sex partners feel it’s a double standard that strangers can tie the knot on TV shows but we can’t marry even if we’ve been together for decades,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
The airing of the episode has fallen during a time when Australian politics is focusing on the battle between a $160m national vote (a plebiscite) on same-sex marriage or the Opposition’s alternative, a vote in parliament.
You might be wondering, what do the couple at the centre of the controversy, Craig and Andy, think?
The pair have spoken out in the media this week, with Craig telling the Sydney Morning Herald he was very disappointed by the reaction from the LGBT community.
“There’s been a lot of negative comments about us setting the movement back. It’s a gay wedding on Australian television – they should be rejoicing, not hating on us for doing it,” he said.
He described how his motives for going on Married at First Sight were personal, not political.
“I didn’t do it for marriage equality, I didn’t do it to be on TV. I did it to meet the man of my dreams,” he said.
Andy agreed, adding that he was “in favour of marriage equality, of course”.
He also told the Today show that he “signed up for an experiment that was about two people being matched together” and “didn’t want to get married.”
Craig insists their role in the show won’t set back the same-sex marriage debate.
Instead, he believes their ‘wedding’ is a step-forward.
“It’s going to put it out to the masses, to make a lot of people more aware of gay marriage and how important it is that we have equal right,” he said.