AHHA backs marriage equality for better health

Friday, August 4, 2017

‘Marriage equality contributes to better health, so we call on the Australian Government to pursue policies and actions to make it happen’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

The AHHA has released a Position Statement on Marriage Equality and Health.

Ms Verhoeven also endorsed today’s release of a United Statement on Marriage Equality by the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) and the Victorian AIDS Council. The statement has been backed by 36 leading health organisations, including AHHA.

The AHHA’s Position Statement and the United Statement draw on an ACON/University of New South Wales evidence review of the impacts of marriage equality, and marriage denial, on the health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

‘The evidence review shows that LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) people are a minority population group that experiences poorer health outcomes than the general population’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘This can be attributed to “minority stress”, where LGBTIQ people struggle for validation and social acceptance. One of the more recent examples of institutional discrimination against this group is the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage.’

‘Feelings of safety and inclusion in the community are extremely important to health generally. It follows that all healthy, safe and respectful relationships should be celebrated, which includes marriage equality’.

‘We also make the following points:

• Sexual orientation and choice of partner are fundamental human rights.
• Civil unions or de facto status are not as respected as, or given equal weight to, marriage.
• Denying LGBTIQ persons the right to civil marriage reinforces stigma associated with minority sexual identity.

‘In legislating for marriage equality, a national plebiscite is not required, just as it was not required when the definition of marriage was changed by the Parliament in 2004’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Evidence from overseas shows that plebiscites on this issue and others involving the rights of a social minority have significant negative mental health impacts on the group in question, in this case LGBTIQ people, through exposure to an adversarial and devaluing public and social debate.

‘Rather than having divisive discourse, the Australian Government and the community could be acting to reduce marginalisation and discrimination, improve equity, and enhance the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people and their families.’

For more information on the AHHA, visit http://ahha.asn.au.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501