I am pleased and relieved that the Australian public has voted yes to marriage equality.
I personally have been challenged and confronted by the debates of the past few months, and critically aware of the harm and hurt that this has caused many members of the lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community.
Whilst we are accepting of the differing views that make up a diverse, engaged, democratic community, Your Community Health firmly believes that it’s not the right of a majority to determine the rights of a minority.
I am delighted that in this instance, the public have demonstrated their overwhelming support for equal rights. Marriage equality is an important step in reducing discrimination and stigma, which will have significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people.
Discriminatory behaviour can have a serious negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing, and I am aware that there will still be personal issues discussed publicly over the coming weeks, as steps are taken to enact marriage equality into legislation.
There are higher rates of poor mental and physical health among LGBTIQ people, particularly younger people. This includes of anxiety and depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol use. We know that this is associated with the extra stress that they experience as a result of discrimination and judgment.
As a human rights based organisation, committed to addressing health inequality, celebrating diversity and enabling inclusion we are determined to reduce this disparity.
Achieving marriage equality will be a huge stride towards health equity for LGBTIQ people. But it will not happen overnight.
We can only address this by changing our behaviour as a whole, to make sure we are being inclusive to all people and treating people fairly. This starts with governmental policy and legislation, and extends to each and every one of us. I am hopeful that this period of hurt and discussion will end quickly and that legal equality for marriage will be enacted soon.
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If you need immediate support, counsellors are available through Switchboard – 1800 184 527, Lifeline – 13 11 14, BeyondBlue – 1300 224 634.