Politics

It’s A Matter Of Health: The Australian Medical Association Just Backed Marriage Equality

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

Australia’s most influential medical practitioners group has thrown it’s support behind marriage equality, citing the negative health outcomes caused by discrimination.

On Saturday the Australian Medical Association released a new policy position paper “calling on the Australian Parliament to legislate for marriage equality, and to end the divisive public debate over same-sex marriage.”

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon has also written to both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asking them to work together to deliver equal rights for all Australians.

By coming out in favour of marriage equality, the typically conservative organisation has acknowledged the harm caused to countless Australians by the ongoing debate around whether same-sex attracted people should be afforded the same rights as their heterosexual friends and family members.

“Discrimination has a severe, damaging impact on mental and physiological health outcomes, and LGBTIQ individuals have endured a long history of institutional discrimination in this country,” said Dr Gannon on Saturday. “There are ongoing, damaging effects of having a prolonged, divisive, public debate, and the AMA urges the Australian Parliament to legislate for marriage equality to resolve this.”

The AMA’s position paper points to inflated suicide rates among gay and trans Australians, and argues that legalising same-sex marriage will reduce stigmatisation and improve overall health outcomes in the LGBTIQ community.

Gannon also acknowledged the tragic consequences that can arise due to a lack of legal recognition. “A person may not have the right to advocate for their ill or injured partner, and decision-making may be deferred to a member of the patient’s biological family instead,” he said.

“It is often forgotten that, at the core of this debate, are real people and families. It’s time to put an end to this protracted, damaging debate so that they can get on with their lives.”

On the related issue of same-sex parenting, the position paper pointed out that there was no evidence to suggest that children raised by same-sex couples had worse health outcomes than children raised by heterosexual couples. It did, however, raised concerns about the mental health of children whose families were the victims of “stigmatisation, rejection, or homophobia.”

Speaking to Out in Perth, Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Alex Greenwich commended the AMA, and said their decision “highlights the important health and well being benefits of treating all citizens equally and fairly.”

“We hope their support sends a strong message to our parliamentarians that delivering this reform can only be good for Australia, and continued delay is cruel and unnecessary,” he added.