The Australian Psychological Society (APS) fully supports marriage equality, but believes the process for achieving equality should not be by means of a popular vote.
APS President, Mr Anthony Cichello, says there is evidence that a plebiscite is likely to present significant risks to the psychological health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as they contend with the stress of a public campaign.
Evidence from a suite of studies shows that in the process of putting marriage equality to a public vote, gender and sexual minorities suffer significantly higher levels of negative emotions than positive emotions, experience significant distress over the negative rhetoric, display increases in psychiatric illness and feel negative, depressed, lonely, disenfranchised and powerless.
Children and other family members of LGBTI couples are also affected by public displays of discrimination against same-sex marriage and homophobia more generally.
The APS also says marriage equality is a human rights and equal opportunity issue and therefore should be a matter for Australian law and our parliamentary system - not a popular vote.
It says denying people the right to marry based on their gender or sexuality is discriminatory, and places them unfairly as second class citizens.
Mr Cichello says psychologists are committed via their code of ethics to the principle that all Australians should be supported to achieve positive mental health and full social inclusion.
“The APS supports full marriage equality for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, on human rights, health and wellbeing grounds – but not by means of a popular vote,” says Mr Cichello.
Read more on the APS’ positions on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues
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Notes to editors:
The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.