PSA speaks on same-sex marriage

The PSA has come out in support of marriage equality, saying same-sex marriage policies support better health outcomes

PSA says it is committed to improving health outcomes for all Australians, especially groups at significant risk of harm.

“PSA recognises that equality is a health issue, and is a right for all Australians, irrespective of age, culture, religion, sexuality or gender identity,” says national president Dr Shane Jackson.

“This is reflected in PSA’s Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, which states that pharmacists have an obligation to respect the dignity and autonomy of the patient, recognise and respect patients’ diversity, cultural knowledge and skills, gender, beliefs, values, characteristics and lived experience, not to discriminate on any grounds and provide care in a compassionate, professional, timely, and culturally safe and responsive manner.”

The organisation’s position statement released on Friday points out that people who identify as LGBTIQ+ make up a significant proportion of the Australian population: around 9% of men and 15% of women report same sex attraction.

It cites 2016 Census data which show there are around 47,000 same sex couples in Australia, a jump of 42% from 2011.

But “the mental health of LGBTIQ people is among the poorest in Australia,” the position statement says.

“Similarly, LGBTIQ people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia.

“It should be noted that the increased risk of poor mental health outcomes and suicide among LGBTIQ Australians is not due to sexuality, sex or gender identity in and of themselves, but rather the consequence of discrimination and exclusion.

“Legislative inequality, such as the absence of marriage equality, has not only been found to have a significant impact on mental health outcomes, it has also been found to impede access to health care for LGBTIQ people.”

The PSA cites research which shows same-sex marriage policies and mental health outcomes are “inextricably” linked.

US data shows a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the last 12 months was associated with the legislation of same-sex marriage policies.

PSA says it is committed to ensuring equality is achieved through the removal of structural and legislative discrimination.

“As such, PSA supports marriage equality, in recognition of the link between improved health outcomes for LGBTIQ people and this type of legislative change.”

PSA is the latest in a list of health stakeholders to show support for marriage and wider equality.

Last week the National Association of Pharmacy Students (NAPSA) issued a statement saying that “equality should be a standard set for everyone”.

“As a progressing society the disparities evident in the level of healthcare provided to those of different sexual orientation is substandard.”

NAPSA also cited data outlining the link between the banning of same sex marriage and poorer mental health outcomes, including increased alcohol abuse, mood disorders and generalised anxiety disorders.

The Australian Medical Association has been publicly supporting same sex marriage legislation for some time, with president Dr Michael Gannon writing in the Huffington Post Australia that such legislation would “further legitimise civil unions that already exist”.

“It is a vote for love, and a vote for family as the fundamental unit of social support in society,” he wrote.

However, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recently changed its mind over the issue.

It suffered a significant backlash from members against its original neutral stance, in which president Dr Bastian Seidel said that the Council’s opinion was that same-sex marriage is a matter for GPs to carefully consider themselves.

The RACGP then sent a statement to members, The Guardian reported, saying it supported same-sex marriage “as part of valuing diversity and inclusion,” though it also supported members’ right to their own opinion.

Read the PSA’s full position statement here.

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