Nearly 200 healthcare professionals caring for gender-diverse and same-sex-attracted Australians have called on the federal government to scrap its planned plebiscite on marriage equality.
Melbourne GP Vincent Cornelisse organised the collection of 196 signatures from the doctors and healthcare workers around the country, warning Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the plebiscite campaign could be harmful for vulnerable people in the community.
“You, Prime Minister, have previously expressed the hope that a debate on marriage equality would be conducted in a respectful manner,” the letter reads.
“We are not convinced that in our society, where harassment and abuse based on gender identity or sexuality is commonplace, that a public debate on marriage equality will be one that is ‘respectful’.”
The letter warns that those opposed to marriage equality could attempt to stigmatise same-sex couples during the publicly-funded plebiscite campaign.
“Classically this is done in the guise of ‘protecting the children,'” the letter reads.
“Not only does this ignore evidence that children raised by same-sex couples are at least as happy and healthy as those raised by heterosexual couples, it also deliberately confuses the debate.
“Whether same-sex marriage becomes legal or not, this does not change the fact that same-sex couples have for many years been raising children successfully.”
The letter states that the idea of having a marriage equality plebiscite at all is disrespectful to same-sex couples, as “the vast majority of Australian people will not be directly affected by the outcome” of the vote.
The future of the plebiscite will depend on whether or not Labor supports the enabling legislation in the Senate.
Earlier this week, News Corp’s Newspoll results showed public support for the plebiscite had fallen from 70 per cent in July to 39 per cent, with 48 per cent of respondents saying they favour a vote by members of Parliament to resolve the issue.
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