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,” said ACON President Justin Koonin. “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,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“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. 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 concluded.
ACON is providing additional counsellors for LGBTI people needing support and assistance during this time. Community members can call them on (02) 9206 2000 or visit acon.org.au. Support is also available from mental health organisations such as QLife (qlife.org.au), beyondblue, SANE Australia, Twenty10, headspace, Relationships Australia, Lifeline and the Blackdog Institute.
Image: courtesy of ACON