STATEMENT FROM THE NATIONAL LGBTI HEALTH ALLIANCE IN RESPONSE TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO INTRODUCE A RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION ACT

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 highlighting the need for a commitment from stakeholders “to do no harm” during the discussions regarding the introduction of a federal Religious Discrimination Act.

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.

Nicky Bath, Executive Director said that, “The Alliance recognises that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and is an essential part of a liberal, democratic society. We support measures that protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs or activity, or their secular beliefs or activity. However, legislation for religious freedom should not be used as a license to discriminate against LGBTI people.”

Recent research has highlighted how legislative processes and public debates relating to the rights of stigmatised, minority populations adversely effects our communities’ already poorer mental health, with an increase in psychological distress being evident among LGBTI people during the same-sex marriage postal survey.

“We are calling upon all Members of Parliament, media, religious organisations and individuals to engage in a respectful debate and reporting around legislating for a Religious Discrimination Act to ensure that the right to practice one’s faith and the right to be free from discrimination are appropriately balanced in a coherent legal framework and do not further marginalise or harm our communities’ health and wellbeing”, said Nicky Bath.

“We also call on the Morrison Government to consult with LGBTI people, organisations and communities to hear directly how this legislation and the ongoing public debates impact negatively on our mental and physical health”, Nicky Bath concluded. 

The Alliance looks forward to continuing 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.

Media Contact:  Nicky Bath, Executive Director

Mobile: 0432 328 706

Email: Nicky.Bath@lgbtihealth.org.au