SPA CEO on Marriage Equality debate

4 October 2016

Thank you to our friends at Mental Health Australia for their Position Statement on Marriage Equality released today reiterating the negative effects of ongoing discrimination on the mental health of LGBTI Australians. Our thanks also to the team at SPA member organisation, the National LGBTI Health Alliance, for their ongoing insight and guidance. The Alliance have also released their Marriage Equality Position Statement today and SPA shares their grave concerns "about the damaging impact that the national dialogue on the issue of marriage equality is having on our communities".

We believe that all people throughout Australia and the world should be able to live free from stigma and discrimination experienced so often by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/transgender, intersex and other sexuality and gender diverse people and communities.

In Australia, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/transgender, intersex and other sexuality and gender diverse Australians are between 3.5 and 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual people. Suicide prevention research has identified a number of risks and protective factors that, individually and combined, can have a significant impact on these figures. This includes stress related to coming out and/or relationship disclosure, invisibility and lack of recognition of relationships, as well as self-censorship and modification of behaviour (such as avoiding displays of affection).

Suicide Prevention Australia acknowledges the work being done by our members and others to strengthen LGBTI health and wellbeing with specific support for suicide prevention policies and programs.

We stand with our members and colleagues in supporting marriage equality as just one of a number of steps that need to be taken to reduce stigma and prevent suicide in the LGBTI community. As Frank Quinlan said in Mental Health Australia’s media release today, “No part of the population should be reliant on the outcome of a plebiscite to free them from discrimination.”

Throughout this time of public conversation and debate, we call for all Australians to be respectful and considerate.

Suicide prevention and mental health services are on hand to support individuals who experience an increased sense of vulnerability as well as those around them.  Find out more about services available to support you to get help or give help click on the Get Help button on our website.

A specific reminder of the QLife service, the national telephone and web counselling service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, families and friends. CALL 1800 184 527 or chat online at https://qlife.org.au/support/

Sue Murray
Chief Executive