Health workers rally for marriage equality

Cobaw Community Health chief executive Margaret McDonald joined colleagues and Macedon Ranges council staff to show support for marriage equality at Kyneton town hall. Picture: Shawn Smits

A Macedon Ranges community health service has called on federal MPs to legalise same-sex marriage, saying the move would greatly improve the health of many of its clients.

About 60 workers from Cobaw Community Health and Macedon Ranges council rallied outside Kyneton town hall last Wednesday.

A bill on the subject is expected to be introduced to Parliament when sitting resumes next month.

Cobaw chief executive Margaret McDonald said marriage equality would lead to substantial benefits for same-sex attracted people.

Data released by lobby group Marriage Equality Australia reveals the mental health of same-sex-attracted people is among the worst in the nation, with more than 24 per cent of people surveyed experiencing a major depressive episode in 2005.

This was compared to 6.8 per cent of the broader population.

Instances of depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm amongst same-sex attracted people are between 3.5 and 14 times higher.

‘‘The current laws in Australia that deny same-sex-attracted people the right to marry their partner continue to affect the wellbeing of many members of our community,’’ Ms McDonald said.

‘‘Social exclusion is one of the most significant determinants of health outcomes.

‘‘Due to ongoing prejudice and discrimination, same-sex-attracted and gender-diverse people have significantly poorer health outcomes than the broader population.’’

Federal Labor MP Lisa Chesters described same-sex marriage as a matter of social justice.

‘‘I supported marriage equality before I was elected to Parliament,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s an issue of equality before the law. We know the vast majority of Australians support it and, as elected representatives, it’s our duty to reflect the wishes of our constituents.’’

Ms Chesters said her office received many emails, phone calls and letters in support of same-sex marriage. ‘‘It’s time. It’s time for our senators and MPs to get on board and support marriage equality.’’

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