AMA calls for marriage equality

The doctor’s group has joined the ranks of healthcare organisations such as the PSA that have come out in support of LGBTIQ rights

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called on the Australian Parliament to legislate for marriage equality, with AMA President Dr Michael Gannon writing to the Prime Minister and Opposition leader Bill Shorten urging a bipartisan approach to marriage equality.

“Discrimination has a severe, damaging impact on mental and physiological health outcomes, and LGBTIQ individuals have endured a long history of institutional discrimination in this country,” says Dr Gannon.

“LGBTIQ-identifying Australians will not enjoy equal treatment under Australian law until they can marry.

“It is the AMA’s position that it is the right of any adult and their consenting adult partner to have their relationship recognised under the Marriage Act 1961, regardless of gender.”

The organisation’s newly released Position Statement argues that people who identify as LGBTIQ have significantly poorer mental health and physiological health outcomes than those experienced by the broader population.

“These health outcomes are a consequence of discrimination and stigmitisation, and are compounded by reduced access to health care, again due to discrimination,” says Dr Gannon.

“It is often forgotten that, at the core of this debate, are real people and families. It’s time to put an end to this protracted, damaging debate so that they can get on with their lives.”

PSA has also recently thrown its support behind the LGBTIQ community, announcing earlier this year its intentions to be involved in next year’s Mardi Gras under the banner “Pharmacists for equality”.

CEO Dr Lance Emerson says the organisation is committed to ensuring equality.

“PSA acknowledges that discrimination has mental and physical health consequences affecting many people, including health practitioners such as pharmacists,” says Dr Emerson.

The social media announcement. Source: PSA, Facebook.

“Equality is a health issue, and is a right for all regardless of age, culture, gender identity, sexuality, religion or marital status.

“With the diverse nature of the pharmacy profession and the communities which pharmacists’ serve, PSA is committed to ensuring equality is achieved and pharmacists are recognised as an important part of an accessible and equitable healthcare system.”

Nationwide, more than half of Australians (62%) support same-sex marriage, data reveals.

However, one in four Australians ‘strongly agrees’ with the statement that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

With such a polarising topic among the community, it’s not surprising the PSA’s announcement was met with both brickbats and bouquets – with some concerns being expressed about member funds being spent on the project.

However, Dr Emerson clarified that no PSA member money will be spent on the initiative and it will be organised by volunteers.

He also pointed out that Pharmacy Guild, SHPA and NAPSA volunteers are also on the organising committee, with PSA facilitating the initiative on behalf of the profession.

The legislation of same-sex marriage has been a political bugbear for years but the Coalition retains hope a plebiscite may yet become reality.

While the call for a plebiscite was rejected by the Senate last year, the Federal government has allocated $170 million in its 2017-18 Budget released nearly two weeks ago.

“The Australian Government remains committed to a plebiscite in relation to same-sex marriage, despite the Senate not supporting the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016,” the 2017-18 Budget states.

“To this end, the Australian Government will provide $170 million to conduct a same-sex marriage plebiscite as soon as the necessary legislation is enacted by the Parliament.”

Same-sex marriage is currently legally recognised (nationwide or in some parts) in: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the US and Uruguay.

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