Marriage equality is about people. It’s about the young people we support, our friends, families and work colleagues. It’s about Same Sex Attracted people who want the choice to marry, just as other people in our communities.
YSAS vision is a community where all young people are valued, included, and have every opportunity to thrive. This is not the message being sent to young people through the current marriage equality plebiscite debate. It is impacting the LGBTIQ+ and Gender Diverse (GD) community greatly, and it is a particularly difficult time to be a same sex attracted young person.
The YSAS Youth Needs Census (2013 and 2016) data on 1153 young people receiving services for AOD issues revealed marked differences between same sex attracted young people and other young people. These included double the rates of suicide attempts (47.6 of same sex attracted young people had attempted suicide) and deliberate self-injury (76.8% of same sex attracted young people had deliberately self-injured in the past). This places them at significantly greater mental and physical health risk than other young adults receiving the same services across Victoria. The same sex attracted young people also reported experiencing more conflict and difficulty in their family environment than other young people (61 versus 52%) and difficulty with housing stability (24.4% experience housing instability) over the previous four weeks. Overall, the data demonstrates the significant additional psychosocial complexities facing same sex attracted young people, highlighting the importance of services and the community in supporting these young people to be safe and have as many opportunities to go on and live meaningful lives as the rest of the young people being supported by services.
What we need to do is treat same sex attracted people the same as everyone else. The prolonged marriage equality discussion is harming same sex attracted young people and adults, as well as increasing feelings of segregation that contribute to poorer health and well-being outcomes. The postal vote is unnecessary, costly and hurtful to many but we are stuck with it so please vote yes to choice, yes to equal rights and yes to promote the health and well-being of all people in our community be they clients, colleagues or loved ones.
Hallam, K. T., Ennis, D.E., Kutin, J., Landmann, O., & Bruun, A. (2017). The Statewide Youth Needs Census of Young People Supported by Victorian Alcohol and Other Drug Services. Online Publication due October 2017 at ysas.org.au.