Wasteful plebiscite damaging for LGBTI Australians, Lynn MacLaren warns

Previous estimates of the cost of a marriage equality failed to account for the costs of major social damage, while wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds, Greens spokesperson for sexuality and gender identity Lynn MacLaren has said.

“I’m not surprised by the figure outlined in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which suggests a plebiscite will cost $525 million in direct expenses, coping with mental health impacts and lost production,” Ms MacLaren said.

“The whole exercise is a complete waste of time and money, particularly as the Parliament has the power to change the law now.

“A plebiscite would achieve nothing and come at a great cost.

“It is non-binding and non-compulsory and we already know that 72 per cent of Australians support same sex marriage.

“I also have serious concerns for the wellbeing of LGBTI people if the plebiscite goes ahead. 

“US research showed that the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people suffered during State referendums on marriage equality. 

“Impacts on mental health included increases in anxiety and other mood disorders and increases in alcohol-use disorders.

“It was a similar story in Ireland, where LGBTI mental health services reported demand for their services doubled during the referendum in 2015.”

“The last thing LGBTI Australians need is for homophobic campaigners to be allowed a bigger stage than ever before to voice their views.

“A plebiscite represents just another way for the Government Ministers to allow their personal views to influence important decisions that they should be making on behalf of the whole country.

“They need a reality check and they need to recognise that marriage is the fundamental human right of all Australians.”