Statement from APS President on Marriage Equality and Postal Vote

In response to recent coverage of the Marriage Law Postal Vote and the divisive discussion that has resulted, the Australian Psychological Society confirms its support for marriage equality. To deny groups within Australian society access to legal marriage is against the fundamental tenets of the APS Code of Ethics and the human rights of LGBTQI+ people.

Psychological research provides no evidence that would justify refusing same-sex partners the choice to marry, but there is ample evidence that such discrimination contributes significantly to the risk of mental ill-health among LGBTQI+ people, especially young people, and to creating or worsening social divisions in our society.

The APS did not support the postal vote due to the damaging nature of the debate and the campaigning it involves. We have already seen our community becoming divided along Yes or No lines.  This is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of LGBTQI+ people, their family and friends but also damages the cohesive fabric of our society. But since the survey is now underway, we support the yes vote.

We urge that same-sex marriage be legalized. 

Anthony Cichello
President, Australian Psychological Society

Key Points

  • Psychologists have an ethical responsibility to work to ensure that all Australians are supported to achieve positive mental health and full social inclusion.
  • Decades of psychological research provides evidence linking marriage to mental health benefits for couples and their children, and highlighting how exclusion from socially sanctioned institutions like marriage can harm people's mental health.
  • The APS supports the full recognition of same-sex relationships, on the basis of this evidence.
  • Marriage discrimination has a flow-on effect on same-sex attracted Australians, their loved ones, and the wider community.
  • Removing all discrimination from the Marriage Act to ensure that all people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, can choose to marry will also promote acceptance and the celebration of diversity, particularly among young people.
  • 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 elsewhere have been linked to increased mental health risks, particularly caused by fear campaigns and social exclusion. Marriage equality is a human rights and equal opportunity issue and should on principle, be a matter for Australian law and our parliamentary system, not a popular vote.

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