The State of Play

We've wan­dered the world to see how oth­ers fare - to the coun­tries and cities where gov­ern­ments don't feel the need to wear the same pla­ter­nal­is­tic cape as their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts; the places where per­sonal - ac­count­abil­ity re­mains an ac­tual things.

GQ (Australia) - - FEATURES -

POR­TU­GAL

It was in 2001, af­ter many years fight­ing an in­creas­ingly fierce war on drugs, that the Por­tuguese gov­ern­ment de­crim­i­nalised ev­ery last one of what Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties re­fer to as il­le­gal sub­stances. This doesn’t mean it’s a junkie free-for-all – fines ex­ist for pos­ses­sion and sell­ing can still land you jail time. But the ad­dic­tion is viewed (rightly) as a health is­sue, which means users are ush­ered to­ward coun­selling and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, not prison. Fif­teen years on, drug use among 15 to 24-year-olds has de­clined; drug-in­duced deaths have plum­meted, so too the HIV rate among in­ject­ing users; not to men­tion less peo­ple sim­ply try­ing drugs full stop.

THE NETHERLAND

A pro­gres­sive and at­trac­tive land on many fronts. In fact, our only real gripe is that blind­ing na­tional colour – or­ange so very hard to ac­ces­sorise. The Dutch were the first coun­try in the world to ‘al­low’ – for want of a bet­ter term – ho­mo­sex­ual adults to make their own de­ci­sion as to whether they wished to be mar­ried or not. This hap­pened in late 2000; was im­ple­mented in 2001. That’s 16 years ago. Here, af­ter the failed (and largely un­wanted) plebiscite, talk continues about the next steps. Sadly, it seems such talk, and not ac­tion, will con­tinue for some time.

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