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Marriage equality debate: national mental health commission concerns

11 Sep 2017
The National Mental Health Commission has expressed concerns about the detrimental mental health impacts of the marriage equality debate.

 The Commission’s Co-Chair, Professor Allan Fels said the debate has heightened discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) people.

“Despite the fact the majority of Australians are supportive of LGBTIQ people, unfortunately unacceptable sentiments are being expressed around the debate,” Professor Fels said.

“LGBTIQ people have been experiencing damaging behaviour in their workplaces, communities and in social and traditional media.

“The Commission is alarmed about the potential negative health impacts these debates are having on individuals, couples and families who face scrutiny and judgement.”

The Commission’s Co-Chair Lucy Brogden said empirical evidence debunks the myths around marriage equality, yet some opponents continue to spread damaging, emotive mistruths.

“The mistruths being expressed around marriage equality are making some people feel anxious and depressed,” Mrs Brogden said.

“This is despite proof that international studies show marriage equality has positive effects, improving the health outcomes, mental and physiological, for LGBTI people.

“For example, same sex marriage policies are associated with a reduction in the proportion of high school students reporting suicide attempts, according to research in America.

“Another myth opponents of same sex marriage claim, is that children from same sex parent families experience poorer health and social outcomes – research contradicts this,” she said.

“Research confirms children raised in same sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers from heterosexual families.”

Mrs Brogden said that it is everyone’s responsibility to treat people with respect and care in their community during this sensitive time.

The Commission maintains that the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ people should be at the heart of any debate about marriage equality.