The Australian Psychological Society (APS), through all of its structures, is committed to the full inclusion of people who are intersex, people who do not identify as heterosexual and/or people who do not identify with their natally-assigned sex. This includes a commitment to supporting the full inclusion of psychologists who themselves are intersex or who do not identify as heterosexual and/or with their natally-assigned sex. Through the work documented on this page, the APS has addressed specific issues in support of these heterogeneous populations, and in so doing has contributed to public debates, particularly with regard to marriage equality, same-sex parenting, and therapies designed to change sexual orientation.
- The acronym LGB/TI has been utilised in some APS documents in order to recognise the distinction between sexual identity (or sometimes ‘sexual orientation’) and gender identity.
- Sexual identity is different from sexual behaviour because it refers to feelings and a person’s views about who they consider themselves to be.
- Same-sex attraction (or non-heterosexual sexual orientation) was once assumed to be evidence of mental disorder. However, the research upon which these assumptions were based has since been found to be methodologically unsound.
- As a professional organisation committed to evidence-based practice, the Australian Psychological Society strongly opposes any form of mental health practice that treats homosexuality as a disorder, or seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation.
- The marginalisation experienced by LGBTI people is best addressed via multiple levels of intervention, for example, via organisational, systemic and social change, in addition to psychological services provided to support individuals, couples or families.
- Young and older people, people with disabilities, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who identify as LGBTI may experience particular challenges.
- The outcomes for children in same-sex parented families are at least as good as for those of heterosexual parents, despite the significant discrimination and inequity many such families face. Research confirms that it is the quality of parenting and of relationships and not the gender of parents or make-up of families that determine the healthy development of children.
There is evidence that marriage has positive effects on the mental health and wellbeing of couples and their children. Same-sex couples who are married have been shown to benefit from being married in the same ways that opposite-sex couples benefit. If LGBTI people are not legally allowed the choice to marry then they are being excluded from the opportunity to enjoy these same benefits, and their children are also denied them.
While the APS fully supports marriage equality, the Society believes that the process for achieving equality should not be by means of a popular vote. Public votes about marriage equality have been linked to increased mental health risks, particularly because of the harm to people’s mental health that is known to be caused by fear campaigns and social exclusion. Furthermore, marriage equality is a human rights and equal opportunity issue and therefore on principle, should be a matter for Australian law and our parliamentary system, not a popular vote.