When it comes to getting involved in the advocacy of LGBTIQ rights, pharmacists’ beliefs vary considerably
AJP has received a lot of engagement from readers following our coverage of PSA’s announcement that some of its members will be involved in next year’s Mardi Gras as volunteers under the banner “Pharmacists for equality”, along with SHPA, Pharmacy Guild and NAPSA volunteers.
Comments received have run the gamut from negative to positive, prompting us to poll readers asking their opinion on pharmacy’s involvement in the push for LGBT+ rights.
The results of the poll reveal that there is a large proportion of pharmacists who are passionate about pharmacy’s involvement in the push for LGBT+ rights, including participation in the Mardi Gras and advocacy for marriage equality.
However there is also a large number that don’t believe pharmacy should get involved as an industry, with about one-fifth of respondents saying they are vehemently opposed to the idea.
As of EOB Monday 29 May, AJP had received 780 total unique votes over the course of one week.
In response to whether pharmacy should get involved in the push for LGBT+ rights, 21% of respondents (164 votes) said “definitely 100% no”.
Nearly twice this amount (39% or 304 votes) said “definitely 100% yes”.
However a further 31% of respondents moderately stated: “No, I don’t think pharmacy should be involved in this area”.
Just 2% said “Yes, I think pharmacy should probably get involved”.
A summary of results:
- 39% – “Definitely 100% yes” (304 votes)
- 31% – “No I don’t think pharmacy should be involved in this area” (238 votes)
- 21% – “Definitely 100% no” (164 votes)
- 7% – “I don’t really care” (53 votes)
- 2% – “Yes I think pharmacy should probably get involved” (18 votes)
- 0% – “I’m undecided on the issue” (3 votes)
Altogether, 41% of pharmacists were supportive of pharmacy’s involvement in pharmacy while 52% were either moderately or passionately against the idea.
PSA CEO Dr Lance Emerson said he is surprised by the outcome of the poll.
“I’m a little surprised by these results, which are inconsistent with a variety of polls conducted on the general population over the last five years, showing growing support (around 76%) for equality,” he said, in reference to Roy Morgan survey findings about Australians’ views on gay marriage.
“I’m also surprised at the amount of media coverage within the pharmacy trade press that this issue is getting,” said Dr Emerson.
“Pharmacists are health professionals and evidence shows that equality is an important 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.”
“I thank the volunteers from SHPA, the Pharmacy Guild, NAPSA and PSA for their work in raising awareness of this issue,” he said.
“We are not aware of any formal involvement in the Mardi Gras float project,” a Pharmacy Guild spokesperson told AJP.
“But it may be that individual Guild members or staff are involved in the project – and of course they are welcome to do so and we wish the project well.
“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is committed to providing equal employment opportunities for all employees and potential employees in an environment which is free from discrimination and harassment, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said the spokesperson.
SHPA Chief Executive, Kristin Michaels, told AJP: “As outlined in our Constitution, SHPA is an equal opportunity organisation and, in our interactions with members, stakeholders, business partners and peers we do not discriminate on the grounds of sexual identity, orientation or expression.”
“NAPSA strongly believes in equality for all, whether it be religious, race or sexual orientation/identity,” said national president Shefali Parekh.
“Everyday we celebrate that the world is a diverse place full of knowledge and culture ready to be embraced. There is a major issue plaguing the political environment of Australia, something that is compelling the minds of Australians, this is marriage equality. The current laws do not just pertain to whether two people of the same sex can marry, but they carry a much larger issue- human rights and more importantly mental health.
“An open mind, allowing just rights and liberties to all is paramount in our society. Our future generations need to be raised in a world where the society is healthy, liberal and harmonious. With this in place, our future generations and the current society will out-perform itself and proliferate.
“NAPSA stands with the community of Australia in wanting a community that is healthy and harmonious. The current laws stand against our strong history of social reform and vigorous democracy. For it to continue like this, NAPSA encourages the government to amend the laws appropriately and stand with the rest of the major world leaders in creating a fair and equitable society.
“For decades, the rates of suicide, depression, loneliness, substance abuse and anxiety – the main pillars of mental health – have been higher in the LGBTI community than others. Marriage equality is a pathway to improving the mental health of gay, bisexual, heterosexual and trans men and women across Australia.
“NAPSA strives to have an environment that has a noticeable support network that empowers our members and boosts their potential. This support network is amplified when society is equally as supportive and has everyone’s dignity and equality unified. We are united against those with a prejudice view on different sexual orientations or identities, and to an extent of this, religions and races. To pharmacy and non-pharmacy students alike, we are proud and respect you for who you are and what you represent.”
What you said
“I believe we have a moral and social responsibility to at least try and help end injustice and discrimination. As health professionals we should realise that this issue is causing harm to an already vulnerable section of the population.” – Brettthereluctantpharmacist
“The issue is highly contentious, highly divisive, highly emotional, highly politicised and PSA should stay right away from it. They don’t represent me on this issue and the poll shows that goes for around half the people responding.” – Peter Dishington
“As health professionals, it is our role to ensure the wellbeing of all … As pharmacists, we are in a unique position to show the community that we are here for everyone.” – Glen Swinburne
“While I think in this day and age it should be common sense that marriage should be an opportunity for all genders and persuasions, I fail to see how the AMA, PSA or Pharmacy Guild have any role or responsibility for promoting such legislative change.” – PharmOwner
“I agree it is not what you would normally consider a core PSA activity but hell, is it ever wrong to show compassion, support and understanding towards fellow humans who have suffered for aeons and continue to suffer discrimination and intolerance because of ignorance and fear.” – Bruce Moffat
“This is a political issue. There are legitimate arguments on both sides. If you have a political point to make, kindly join a party and express your opinion… Stop politicising every other organisation and aspect of life.” – Wesley Williams
“This is a fantastic initiative that makes me proud to call myself a PSA member. Mardi Gras isn’t just a celebration of the LGBTIQ+ community, it’s a time to tell all Australians, no matter who they are, that they are an important and welcome part of our diverse community.” – Daniel Roitman