REDLANDS-based author Michael Burge has called on Bowman MP Andrew Laming to support marriage equality.
Mr Burge said University of Queensland research showed what many marriage equality advocates had long been warning the federal government – that the “no’’ campaign on marriage equality was detrimental to the mental health of young LGBTI people and the children of LGBTI parents.
He said if Mr Laming was genuine in supporting the mental health of all constituents, he should support marriage equality.
The UQ research found that Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum “no’’ campaign had a deeply negative impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and their families.
UQ’s Sharon Dane, Liz Short from Victoria University and Grainne Healy of Ireland surveyed 1657 LGBTI people and their families.
“Only 23 per cent indicated they would be happy to have the referendum again,” Dr Dane said. “Nearly three quarters of them said the ‘no’ campaign had a highly detrimental impact… A majority ... reported strong feelings of anxiety and anger when exposed to the campaign.’’
Dr Dane said the referendum gave people who did not support marriage equality a platform from which to express hurtful views.
Respondents said the referendum provided a megaphone for homophobia and hate and resulted in strained, damaged and broken relationships.
Dr Healy said the Irish campaign was brutal, divisive and hurtful.
Dr Laming said people who feared a plebiscite, were merely those who feared the result would not go their way.
“Australia is ready to go, and can make same sex marriage a reality early next year, if the support directly reflects community attitudes,’’ Dr Laming said.
“I welcome everyone’s opinions on this issue, including Mr Burge’s and that’s why I will be voting on the result that Bowman residents decide.”
Mr Burge, a LGBTIQ equality advocate, said too many coalition MPs, including Mr Laming, relied on stock footage captured during the outcome of Ireland's referendum as some nation-uniting moment.
He said it was not all dancing in the streets. It was a mental health minefield.
"...Ireland had no choice but to hold a referendum, but Australia has always been able to hold a free vote in Parliament, at no cost to taxpayers and with no need to permit divisive hate campaigns.’’
Mr Burge said if the Turnbull Government was serious about enacting marriage equality, it should hold a vote in Parliament, especially as most Australians backed a change in the Marriage Act.
“All leaders of Australia's major parties support marriage equality. Malcolm Turnbull needs to stand up to the bullies on his backbench and lead the country to this reform.
“All the data and polling available tells Mr Turnbull and Mr Laming that it is politically safe for them to vote on the floor of parliament.’’