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Supporting same sex marriage important for mental health

31 March 2016

Supporting same sex marriage important for mental health of LGBTI people: RANZCP

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is concerned that a disproportionate number of Australia and New Zealand’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) population experience mental illness and psychological distress according to anew position statement published today.

“People who identify as LGBTI are at increased risk of exposure to institutionalised and interpersonal discrimination and marginalisation which in turn increases vulnerability to mental illness and psychological distress. Mental health outcomes for the LGBTI populations of Australia and New Zealand are amongst the poorest of any demographic” said RANZCP President Professor Malcolm Hopwood.

“In Australia, LGBTI people have very high rates of suicidality, with 20% of trans people and 15.7% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people reporting current suicidal ideation.

“Same-sex attracted people are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide, twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders and three times more likely to experience affective disorders compared with the broader population.

“Research shows intersex individuals exhibit levels of psychological distress comparable to people who have experienced several physical or sexual abuse.

“These statistics show that for many individuals sadly expressing their sexuality can still be a distressing or traumatic experience due to discrimination they experience from their community, and our society at large. This can increase the likelihood of people experiencing mental health disorders.

“Therefore based on the evidence it is important that RANZCP supports the legalisation of same sex marriage in Australia, as research shows that legislative inequality has a significant and deleterious impact on mental health and conversely, that there is a strong link between improved health outcomes and legislation change of this sort.

“Our members in New Zealand have noted a swell of positive support for same sex couples in the development and implementation of the same sex marriage act. I anticipate the same would occur in Australia, and it would be immensely beneficial to the people concerned.

‘The RANZCP emphasises the importance of ongoing, respectful dialogue with those on both sides of the marriage equality debate in Australia, and the need for any discussion around the plebiscite to keep the mental health of vulnerable young people as a priority” said Professor Hopwood

Read RANZCP position statement 83: Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of the LGBTI population also available


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