Australia’s lack of progress in recognising the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual+ community has pushed the nation behind numerous countries and contributed to a rise in mental health issues amongst LGBT+ youth, according to a report released yesterday.
The findings, announced by Geneva-based, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex Association, rate each country according to their laws relating to sexual orientation.
Australia is grouped with 28 other States globally who recognise same-sex partnership, however continue to dismiss marriage equality.
The report coincides with International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia today, which celebrates the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder on May 17, 1990, whilst raising awareness of the high statistics on ill mental health amongst the LGBT+ community.
Minus18 is a youth driven LGBT+ charity primarily run through university-aged students. It supports more than 150,000 people each year through online services and events with an aim to elevate the voices of LGBT+ youth.
Minus18’s CEO, Micah Scott, said the declassification was a significant shift in the way LGBT+ people were seen.
“While we’ve come a long way in nearly 30 years, through law and adoption reforms in some States and civil unions, there is still a lot of work to be done. There are staggeringly high rates of mental health problems in the LGBT+ community,” he said.
“We are striving for acceptance and inclusion, not merely tolerance.”
Almost 25% of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, and over 36% of Transsexual people experience depression, compared to 6.8% of the general population.
Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays NSW President, Judy Brown said their main aim is to keep families together during these times.
“A major cause towards this mental illness is the negative attitudes in society towards homosexuality and often sadly, negative attitudes amongst the family and friends of people who are LGBT+,” she said.
“We believe people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Gender Diverse were born that way, and we advocate to the community and government to end discrimination and gain equal rights.”
Darcy Robinson, who identifies as transgender and bisexual, said it’s vital Australia legalises marriage equality, but there are many things missing from our social circle that have never been addressed.
“As someone who is half of the LGBT acronym, I don’t feel safe in Australia and I feel that’s telling,” he said.
“With my transition, 99% of government, law and medical professionals know nothing about transgender people. We need easier access to healthcare, safe spaces, stronger stances on discrimination and educational programs for younger teenagers on sexuality that tells them it’s okay to defy the norm.
“I’m in a long term relationship with a cisgender woman, so I feel totally comfortable expressing that in public. But there’s no doubt I would be super paranoid expressing any display of affection if I was with a man.”