OPINION PIECE: Marriage Equality, Thursday 13 August 2015

 

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

On Monday, I met with former AFL player, Lachlan Beaton.

Lachlan grew up in country Victoria.  From the age of 14 or 15 he knew he was gay. 

Lachlan told me that for years he felt being gay was wrong.  He felt like an outcast.  He was afraid that if he came out, he’d be disowned, that people would stop loving him.

To escape his torment, Lachlan started drinking too much. He suffered from depression, and even contemplated suicide.

No young person should ever feel like this.  No one should ever have to feel like this.

It’s heartbreaking, but the sad truth is that Lachlan’s story is not that unusual.

Indeed, the facts are alarming.

Same-sex attracted young people are six times more likely to attempt suicide.

And LGBTI young people experience higher rates of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and homelessness. 

Lachlan came out at 26. 

Since then, he has been an inspirational advocate for LGBTI mental health, and for marriage equality.

Thanks to the work of people like him, community support for marriage equality in Australia now stands at more than 70 per cent.

Despite this, in a chaotic meeting earlier this week, Tony Abbott’s partyroom decided to stand in the way of marriage equality.

That decision is a big disappointment for the millions of Australians who support marriage equality, including me.

I worry about the message the decision sends to young gay and lesbian people who might be struggling with their sexuality.

When your Prime Minister, and your government, say that what you feel and who you love are wrong, and that you deserve fewer rights, it hurts.  Deeply.

We will keep fighting hard remove this discrimination.

But right now I want to take a moment to say this to same-sex attracted young people:

It may be that you feel very disappointed.

It may be that you feel very let down.

It may be that you feel that you’ve been treated by this Parliament as second class citizens.

But you are not.

There are many members of this Parliament, from all sides of politics, who will defend your rights and stand with you.

If you are same sex attracted, you’re just fine. 

If you have two mums, or two dads, your family is just fine.  

We see you.  We are proud of you.  And we are determined to ensure the laws of our country show it.

I promise that this change will come.  I hope it will come soon.  Love, and equality, will win. 

This article was originally published in MAMAMIA