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Marriage equality debate: national mental health commission concerns

Marriage equality debate: national mental health commission concerns

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.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.