There's a possibility Australians will soon receive letters in the mail inviting them to have their say on marriage equality. Whether a non-compulsory, non-binding vote by post is the most appropriate way to deal with this issue has, of course, provoked debate.
Over the coming weeks, Australians will thrash this out around the dinner table, in their workplaces, online, on air and everywhere in between. But as the debate rages on, the reality is there are different views about marriage equality, and we all have a role to play in making this a respectful and responsible debate.
The core issue, of course, is whether two consenting adults who love each other should be allowed to marry in front of their family and friends in their own country.
We at beyondblue say yes. Absolutely.
For us, this is not about the politics or the process. It is about people. And it's about mental health and wellbeing.
In 2015, we issued a statement in support of marriage equality. We did so because discrimination is unacceptable.
We want all members of LGBTQ communities to know we stand with you and that support is available.
Most LGBTQ people are happy, healthy and remarkably resilient. They contribute to the community and the economy. They are going about their lives doing remarkable and unremarkable things.
But they also experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Lesbian, gay or bisexual Australians are three times more likely to experience depression, and twice as likely to experience an anxiety condition, than heterosexual Australians.
Almost 65 percent of LGBTQ young people experience verbal abuse and 18 percent report physical abuse. One in six LGBTQ young people has attempted suicide. One third have harmed themselves. This is not due to their sexuality or gender identity, but because of the discrimination and prejudice they too often face simply for being who they are.
Whether it is bullying, homophobia or transphobia, discrimination causes deep distress for many people and elevates the risk of mental health issues and suicide.
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As an organisation that advocates for an end to discrimination in all its forms, our position remains unchanged.
We seek an inclusive community -- in schools, workplaces, homes, online and on the field -- where everyone is welcome. A supportive community that promotes good mental health and reduces the risk of individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety.
It is our job to continue to be a safe harbour for anybody who may be affected by this debate. We want all members of LGBTQ communities to know we stand with you and that support is available.
Love doesn't discriminate and neither do we.
Mental health professionals are available at the beyondblue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3pm-12am AEST) or email responses within 24 hours. Support is also available at QLife – 1800 184 527 – the national telephone and web counselling service for LGBTI people from 3pm to midnight nation-wide.