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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018


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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues

The APS is committed to the human rights and full inclusion of LGBTI people, that is, people who are intersex, people who do not identify as heterosexual and/or people who do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth.

This includes supporting the full inclusion of psychologists who themselves are intersex or who do not identify as heterosexual and/or with the sex assigned to them at birth.

The marginalisation and discrimination that LGBTI people experience, via discriminatory laws and community attitudes toward marriage equality and same-sex parenting, therapies designed to change sexual orientation, and threats and acts of violence, can have long-lasting impacts on mental health and wellbeing.

Key points

  • The acronym 'LGB/TI' has been utilised in some APS documents in order to recognise the distinction between sexual identity (or sometimes ‘sexual orientation’) - LGB - and gender identity - TI.
  • 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. The research upon which these assumptions were based has since been found to be unsound.
  • The marginalisation experienced by LGBTI people is best addressed via multiple levels of intervention. This should include psychological services provided to support individuals, couples or families, as well as organisational, systemic and social change.
  • Young and older people, people with disabilities, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who identify as LGBTI may experience particular challenges.

Marriage equality

  • The APS welcomed the 2017 Parliamentary vote and legislation to establish marriage equality in Australia. The legislation brought us in line with many other countries around the world in recognising the rights of same-sex couples to legally marry.
  • 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.
  • Full recognition of same-sex relationships 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 also promotes acceptance and the celebration of diversity, particularly among young people.
  • Marriage equality is a human rights and equal opportunity issue and should not have been put to a popular vote, but rather on principle have been a matter solely for Australian law and our parliamentary system.

Same-sex parenting

  • 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, not the gender of parents or make-up of families that determine the healthy development of children.
  • The APS Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parented families review paper provides further information on the wellbeing of children in same-sex parented families.


How the APS is involved

As a professional organisation committed to evidence-based practice, the APS strongly opposes any mental health practice that treats homosexuality as a disorder, or seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation. The APS also supports the full recognition of same-sex relationships.

The APS has addressed specific issues and contributed to public debates, particularly with regard to marriage equality, same-sex parenting, and therapies designed to change sexual orientation.

The APS contributes submissions to government inquiries to provide evidence about the harm caused by discrimination against LGBTI people and communities. Several of these inquiries were related to marriage equality.

The APS has also produced a series of information sheets for health professionals and the general public containing information about sexual identity and gender diversity, marriage equality and topics pertinent to LGBTI parents, children and families.