STATEMENT FROM THE NATIONAL LGBTI HEALTH ALLIANCE IN RESPONSE TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BILL

Friday 30 August 2019

Media Contact:  Nicky Bath, Executive Director Mobile: 0432 328 706 | Email: Nicky.Bath@lgbtihealth.org.au

The National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) is calling for the Government to strongly consider the negative health and wellbeing consequences that will arise as a direct result from this legislation.

Nicky Bath, Executive Director said, “Just yesterday I listened to Dr Julie Mooney-Somers from the university of Sydney present data from Australia’s longest running regular survey of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health which shows that our young people have very high rates of depression and anxiety as well as suicidal ideation.  We need our government to ensure that every Australian can live free from stigma and discrimination. Provisions to protect people of faith from “unfair” treatment, should not come at the expense of unfair treatment of others”.

Nicky Bath, continued, “The messages from the government are confusing. On the one hand the Prime Minister wants to reach a target of zero suicides and on the other the government is allowing vulnerable members of the community to be discriminated against. We know that discrimination is harmful in whatever form it presents itself.”

Evidence shows that the structural discrimination enshrined in our nation’s laws exacerbate the impacts of minority stress on LGBTI people, including increased anxiety, depression, suicidality and substance use.

The Alliance recognises that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and how that right is expressed publicly may be constrained in order to protect the safety, health and fundamental rights of others. This includes the right that all people are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law without any discrimination. These rights need to be protected and the proposed new legislation does not do this.

“We urge individuals, communities and organisations to participate in the consultation process that has finally been made available to us so that the government can hear directly how this legislation will impact negatively on our mental and physical health.” Nicky Bath concluded. 

The Alliance again highlights the need for a commitment from stakeholders “to do no harm” during the discussions regarding the Draft Religious Discrimination Bill. Legislative processes and public debates relating to the rights of stigmatised, minority populations adversely impact on our communities’ already poorer mental health and well-being. The Alliance will continue to work with our members, stakeholders and the government to ensure that LGBTI people are able to be healthy and treated equally before the law.

If you are experiencing distress and would like to talk with someone on the phone or over the web, then please call QLife on 1800 184 527 or go to www.qlife.org.au