REPRESENTATIVES of Australia’s leading LGBTI organisations will participate in a teleconference with the Federal Attorney-General George Brandis on Thursday to discuss the plebiscite.

One spokesperson from groups including Australian Marriage Equality (AME), Australians 4 Equality (A4E), the NSW and Victorian Gay and Rights Lesbian Lobbies and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), will each have an opportunity to address the consultation organised at the request of Brandis.

 Reports have suggested the meeting may have been organised by Brandis as an opportunity to hear from LGBTI organisations about under what circumstances they might consider compromising on the plebiscite, but marriage equality advocates have denied they will shift their position on a plebiscite.

“My understanding of this meeting is it’s going to be an opportunity for George Brandis to engage with all the organisations that are a part of the national working group on marriage equality, forming a consultation on the plebiscite and gives him the opportunity to have the discussion with us all at once,” said NSW GLRL co-convenor, Chris Pycroft.

“We will obviously reaffirm our position that we are against the plebiscite, that has not and will not change, we will use it as an opportunity to continue the discussion on marriage equality as we have done with all sides of parliament.

“It’s really appropriate for politicians to continue to engage with LGBTI groups on this issue because it’s our rights that this is about, the more conversation they’re prepared to have with us, that’s great.”

Email from A4E obtained by thestirrer.com.au.

Email from A4E obtained by thestirrer.com.au.

A spokesperson for A4E, who helped coordinate the consultation with Brandis, told Star Observer the organisation will continue to oppose the plebiscite on marriage equality.

“This is a straightforward issue that can be resolved by a free vote in parliament, but it’s also appropriate that all political parties continue directly with the wide and diverse range or LGBTI groups and people,” he said.

“We’ve got to continue to engage the decision makers in the nation, it’s important we engage all political parties moving forward. This is about ensuring all political parties continue to hear the diverse range of voices across the LGBTI community.”

LGBTI groups including ACON, AME, A4E, Rainbow Families NSW, PFLAG NSW, Minus 18, Twenty 10, Pat McGorry and the GLRL groups, met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek this morning to discuss marriage equality after which Shorten gave a media conference condemning the plebiscite.

News of the meeting came as leading mental health organisations issued statements supporting marriage equality.

Mental Health Australia said it recognised discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality is detrimental to mental health.

“Discrimination targeting LGBTIQ Australians has had negative impacts on the mental health of people denied access to the same rights, privileges, responsibilities and institutions as the rest of the population.  These impacts continue to this day,” it said in a statement.

“The Parliament should continue to pass laws that remove discrimination.  This should include laws to establish marriage equality.

“Laws to protect any part of the population from discrimination should not be contingent on the outcome of a plebiscite.

“LGBTIQ Australians already experience mental illness, self-harm and suicide at significantly higher rates than the rest of the Australian community, and existing funding for appropriate mental health services fails to meet existing needs.”

Suicide Prevention Australia said it stood with its members and colleagues in supporting marriage equality as just one of a number of steps that need to be taken to reduce stigma and prevent suicide in the LGBTI community, while the National LGBTI Health Alliance released its position statement on marriage equality today.

“The National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance) is gravely concerned about the damaging impact that the national dialogue on the issue of marriage equality is having on our communities,” its statement said.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and their families, are being told to wait while it is decided whether to confer equal rights for all couples to be married before the law. The Alliance seeks to focus attention on the impacts that this discussion and process is having on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, communities and their families.

“From experience, we know that debate conducted by those outside of our communities can lack nuanced understanding about our diverse lives and identities.  This causes harm and risks significant splintering in social cohesion.

“There is a growing body of medical and social research demonstrating the health benefits which flow on from having one’s relationships recognised. This includes equal marriage rights.”

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