Briony Jane Walker
Briony Jane Walker campaign supporter

Youth voice on marriage equality debate

Alex Hawke the Federal Member for Mitchell claimed to represent the views of his constituents when he called for an adjournment on the issue of same sex marriage in Parliament on Tuesday.

He said: “There is the idea that we need to achieve equality. We are not a society of equality. We are not a society that seeks complete equality for all of our citizens. It is not a goal that we will ever achieve and it is not a goal that I believe is worthwhile.”

Confused? As an organisation that works with young people headspace is. We can tell you that marriage equality is primarily about ending social exclusion and giving all Australians the same basic rights.

Imagine growing up knowing that because you are same sex attracted you will never be able to choose to get married to someone you love – something your heterosexual friends take for granted.

We know from responses of more than 3000 young people in La Trobe University’s writing themselves in report released on Friday that discrimination perpetuates feelings of isolation and poorer mental health outcomes.

Suicide rates among same sex attracted young people are three times higher and up to six times higher in rural and regional areas. As Australians who believe in equality for all people regardless of their race, gender, religion or sexuality this is not something we can ignore.

Monday’s Neilson poll found that more than half of Australians support marriage equality.

We’ve heard comments from politicians, community leaders, the media and union leader Joe de Bruyn who related same sex marriage to political suicide. It goes without saying this is deeply offensive when the lives of young people are at risk.

In contrast to the voices of Hawke and Bruyn here is an example of what young people told us: “Please, for the sake of people and for the sake of the couples in love who want to be truly recognised as equal and together, let's end the pointless and outdated discrimination so Australia can truly begin to move forward.”

Now that’s a voice we really do understand.

If you'd like your voice to be heard on the issue of same sex marriage, please visit:
http://www.headspace.org.au/home/my-headspace/your-voice/

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