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It’s a yes! Now let’s put the love in to marriage equality legislation

Ruth Armstrong writes:

Around Australia this morning, people gathered in parks and public spaces, around computers and televisions, to watch the Australian Statistician, David Kalisch, report the results of the Marriage Equality postal ballot.

Australian Statistician David Kalisch with Auslan interpreter
Australian Statistician David Kalisch with Auslan interpreter

The results provide a clear mandate.

Nearly 80% of eligible Australians voted, and the overall result to the simple question, Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry? was a resounding Yes. 7,817,247 people – or 61.6 per cent of participants – voted for the change.

It has been a long and tense wait for members of the LGBTQI community, with many people reporting that they felt isolated, marginalised and traumatised by the open debate about their families and identities.

Mental health organisations have reported spikes in help-seeking by LGBTQI clients, leading to the development of advice on self care.

While there is jubilation and relief that the survey has confirmed that the majority of Australians support marriage equality, the wait is not over. Parliament now has to debate the legislation that will make it law.

This week we have begun to see the politics and posturing that might be played out as this as shaped and debated in parliament over the coming weeks.

A number of health and social welfare organisations have issued statements of support, and advice on how to care for each other in the coming days.  All agree that legislation should be developed swiftly, and that it should relieve, rather than entrench discrimination, which is harmful to health.

We post the early ones below, and will continue as more come to hand.

Australian Council of Social Service

Marriage equality finally recognised

ACOSS is very pleased that marriage equality has been recognised by the Australian people as a right following the release of the postal survey results today.

People across Australia have voted a resounding yes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people having the same rights as everyone else to marry the person they love.
ACOSS applauds all those across Australian society who campaigned tirelessly for this outcome, and all of those Australian people who voted yes to finally removing discriminatory barriers to marriage.
ACOSS calls on the Parliament to accept this resounding vote of yes and to ensure the passage of legislation is expedited and that it retains the necessary human rights protections all Australian people currently enjoy.
In now acting on this result the Parliament must not trade away existing important anti-discrimination protections for all Australians in return for the right to marry.

Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Doctors from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) have welcomed the result of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, showing the majority of Australian voters support marriage equality.

RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland said:

“The postal survey has gauged the views of voting Australians, validating what we already know about this issue – LGBTI Australians should have the opportunity to marry the person they love.

“We believe the public health case for marriage equality is strong. The current definition of marriage entrenches discrimination and changing this definition will be an important step towards ensuring legal, societal and health equity for LGBTI Australians and their families.

“We urge parliamentarians to now show leadership on this issue and accelerate laws to deliver marriage equality and remove discrimination against LGBTI Australians, without any further delay.”

Eliminating discrimination and delivering marriage equality will ensure better health outcomes for LGBTI parents and their children.

RACP President of Paediatric, Dr Sarah Dalton, said:

“I didn’t want a postal survey and I didn’t want the children and young people I care for to be exposed to a national debate about whether or not they deserve equal rights.

“I didn’t want to have to argue the case for why we should respect and value all people and support our young people to be comfortable in their own skin. But it happened, the postal survey has now been completed and the LGBTI community stands at the brink of having equality for the most basic human right, the right to marry the person you love.”

ACON

ACON WELCOMES ‘YES’ RESULT AND CALLS ON AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT TO LEGISLATE FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

ACON, NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation, has warmly welcomed the ‘yes’ result from the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey as a huge step forward for LGBTI equality in Australia, and calls on the Australian Government to begin legislating for marriage equality.

“As an organisation that has openly and proudly supported marriage equality in Australia, ACON is heartened to see LGBTI people receive so much support from the Australian public,” ACON President Justin Koonin said. “This is an encouraging outcome that we hope will finally pave the wave for marriage equality.”

Dr Koonin said the protracted public discourse on marriage equality has had a detrimental effect on people’s health.

“Over the past few months, our communities have been subjected to an unnecessary and divisive debate, which has caused many people distress. Research show that LGBTI people experience higher levels of depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide compared to the general population. These health conditions have been exacerbated by this harmful debate, which has caused segregation and may have led to poorer health outcomes.

“In recent weeks, we have seen an increased demand for our client services across the state because of the debate. The ‘yes’ result will go a long way in healing some of this trauma but until we have marriage equality, this issue will continue to negatively impact on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Australians.”

Dr Koonin said it was now time for the Federal Government to listen to the Australian public and make marriage equality a reality.

“Ending marriage discrimination will facilitate greater acceptance, reduce discrimination and over time, improve the health of LGBTI Australians. The longer politicians continue to deny people the right to marry, the longer they will prevent many in LGBTI communities from fulfilling healthy and happy lives.
“We know that the ‘yes’ result is not the end of this issue and the debate will continue,” Dr Koonin said. “The government must heed this the result of the postal survey as a sign that Australians want this issue resolved as soon as possible.

“We call on our elected representatives to do the right thing – to recognise the dignity and depth of our relationships, to recognise the health consequences of elongating this divisive debate and ongoing discrimination, and to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people by legislating for marriage equality immediately.”

Dr Koonin urged people in LGBTI communities to remain strong and united, and said support was available for those who need it.

“This process has been exhausting and overwhelming for many in our community but it has also made us stronger and more determined. We will face what comes next with our friends and allies on our side. Remember, our communities are resilient and we are stronger together,” Dr Koonin said.
ACON is providing additional counsellors for LGBTI people needing support and assistance during this time. Community members can call us on (02) 9206 2000 or visit http://acon.org.au. Support is also available from mental health organisations such as QLife (http://qlife.org.au), Beyond Blue, SANE Australia, Twenty10, headspace, Relationships Australia, Lifeline and the Blackdog Institute.

Australian Medical Association

Australians have voted for marriage equality: time to legislate against discrimination

The AMA welcomes today’s strong ‘YES’ vote (61.6 per cent) from the same sex marriage national postal survey.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that the Federal Parliament must now heed the overwhelming message from the Australian people and legislate for marriage equality.

“It is time to end the discrimination and lift the health burden from our LGBTIQ population,” Dr Gannon said.

“The AMA clearly expressed its support for same sex marriage with our Position Statement on Marriage Equality earlier this year.

“Along with the majority of Australians, as shown by today’s survey result, the AMA believes that two loving adults should be able to have their relationship formally recognised.

“This is not a debate about same sex parenting or religious freedom or the school curriculum – it is about ending a form of discrimination.

“There are evidence-based health implications arising from discrimination.

“Discrimination has a severe, damaging impact on mental and physiological health outcomes.

“People who identify as LGBTIQ experience substantially poorer mental and physiological health outcomes than the broader population.

“They are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviours such as illicit drug use or alcohol abuse, and have the highest rates of suicidality of any population group in Australia.

“LGBTIQ Australians are our doctors, nurses, teachers, politicians, police officers, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and they deserve the same rights as every other person.

“The AMA wants to see an end to all forms of discrimination against LGBTIQ Australians.

“It is now up to our Parliament to act.

“We hope to see this matter resolved before the end of the year and we urge all Australians to respect the rights of LBGTIQ people, their families, and friends.

“More than 25 other countries have already passed same sex legislation. Australia should join them.”

 

cohealth

Yes!
cohealth welcomes positive result of marriage equality survey – now it’s time to deliver legal equality for LGBTIQ families

cohealth, provider of community health and support services in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs, has welcomed the result of the Marriage Equality Postal Survey announced today.

The result shows that Australians overwhelmingly support marriage equality. It is now incumbent on our Parliamentarians to reflect the views of the community. We call on the Parliament to move without delay to amend the Marriage Act to enshrine marriage equality in law, and to do so without creating any new forms of discrimination.

As we asserted at the outset, it is our view that the Marriage Equality Postal Survey was a deeply divisive and unnecessary process. It hurt our LGBTIQ clients and staff, and we saw sharp increases in demand for support to cope with the negative impacts of the campaign. However the survey also showed the incredible strength and resilience of the LGBTIQ community, and demonstrated the value that the Australian community as a whole places on equality.

As a human rights based health organisation, we know that social equity and inclusion are essential to the health and wellbeing of marginalised individuals, families and communities, whilst discrimination can have a profoundly negative effect.

We are encouraged by the attitude of the broad Australian community as demonstrated by the survey result, but remain concerned about the potential further negative impacts of stigmatisation and vilification on LGBTIQ individuals and communities as Parliament debates the required changes to the Marriage Act.

We will be alert and ready to continue offering support to our LGBTIQ clients and staff – in particular young people, children, those without support and those with mental health support needs.

And we call on our politicians to now act swiftly to bring this period of hurt and discrimination for LGBTIQ individuals and their families to an end, and to finally deliver legal equality – and improved health outcomes – for LGBTIQ families.

For people needing support, Counsellors are available through QLife and Switchboard, phone service open every day between 3pm – Midnight 1800 184 527; Lifeline13 11 14; and BeyondBlue 1300 224 634.

VicHealth

Victoria’s YES vote for marriage equality puts mental wellbeing first VicHealth has welcomed the results of the same-sex marriage postal survey, with more than 60 per cent of Australians and

more than 64 per cent of Victorians saying YES to marriage equality. VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the results showed the majority of Victorians voted for fairness and equality, putting the

health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community first. “The community has spoken and delivered a strong vote of love and support for their LGBTI friends, family, colleagues and neighbours,” Ms

Rechter said. “Everyone deserves the same opportunity to experience good health and happiness and this result shows the community wants same-sex couples to have the same rights and

freedoms as heterosexual couples. “Our recent research highlighted the harmful impact of discrimination and exclusion on LGBTI Victorians’ health and wellbeing, so it’s fantastic that the

community has voted yes to inclusion. “The health benefits of marriage equality are clear and we are proud that Victorians have delivered a strong show of support for their LGBTI family, friends

and neighbours. “It is now time for the Australian Government to act on the community’s wishes and make marriage equality a reality.” Ms Rechter said it was critical that Victorians continued

to support the LGBTI community in the coming months. “The debate for marriage equality has been hard-fought, with some LGBTI people and their families experiencing ugly and hurtful

backlash as a result,” she said. “We call on the community to continue to support each other as the legislation is debated in Parliament. “This is one more step towards true equality, but we know

that there is much more to be done before LGBTI Australians can live free from discrimination. VicHealth is committed to working with LGBTI Victorians to ensure they can live their lives to the

fullest and enjoy the best possible health and wellbeing. “Today the values that really matter in our community – inclusion, acceptance, connection, equality and love – have won and we are so

thrilled that soon same-sex couples in Victoria will be able to get married – a right that is long overdue.”

Australian Psychological Society

APS responds to ‘yes’ vote in same-sex marriage survey

The Australian Psychological Society welcomes the outcome of the Marriage Law postal survey and looks forward to prompt legislation establishing marriage equality in Australia.

The Society has long supported marriage equality on mental health and wellbeing grounds. Psychological research provides no evidence that would justify refusing same-sex partners the choice to marry, but there is ample evidence that such discrimination contributes significantly to the risk of mental ill-health among LGBTQI+ people, especially young people, and to creating or worsening social divisions in our society.

APS President Anthony Cichello said:  “While the outcome is welcomed, many people have been subject to physical and/or psychological abuse by the process of the debate and it is important that we work to heal the rift in our community, and particularly ensure that those directly affected by the outcomes of the vote are supported.   The APS urges that same-sex marriage be legalised by a vote of Parliament as soon as possible.”

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