AUSTRALIA’S leading medical lobby group has made the call to support marriage equality, labelling it a health issue.
The Australian Medical Association announced on Saturday that president Dr Michael Gannon had written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten calling for a bipartisan approach to the long political debate.
The AMA also released a position statement on marriage equality.
In a statement, Dr Gannon said excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage impacted mental and physical health of LGBTIQ Australians.
He cited discrimination such as historic anti-LGBTIQ laws, former adoption restrictions and the decades-old medical classification that listed homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder.
“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,” Dr Gannon said.
He said LGBTIQ Australians had poorer health outcomes, and would continue to do so, if discrimination continued.
Dr Gannon said they experienced the highest rate of suicide of any population group in Australia.
“LGBTIQ Australians are our doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. They contribute to this country as much as any Australian, but do not enjoy the same rights,” he said.
“It is time to remove this discrimination.”
Under Dr Gannon’s leadership, the AMA had until recently backed away from a firm position on marriage equality.
In an interview on Sky News in October 2016, he told journalist Patricia Karvelas the AMA didn’t have strong statements on the proposed marriage-equality plebiscite.
“Look, I’m here to talk about health policy. And the extent to which discrimination against any member of the community is a health issue, I would like to see this issue resolved. I don’t think it’s my job to make personal commentary on it,” he said when asked if he supported the plebiscite.
The proposed plebiscite was a major issue during the 2016 federal election.
It failed to go ahead when the Australian Senate narrowly voted it down in November.