Depression initiative beyondblue has launched a new campaign urging Australians to stop discriminating against people because of their sexual preference or gender identity.

Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett said the major national awareness campaign, which was announced this morning at Bondi Junction, is aimed at reducing discrimination and bullying, particularly against young LGBTI people.

“It’s unreasonable to think you would discriminate against someone just for being themselves,” Kennett said.

“We don’t want people to feel they have to hide who they are because they fear discrimination, ridicule or violence.

“Beyondblue research shows that discrimination and bullying are major contributing factors to depression and anxiety, and risk of suicide. The [LGBTI community], in particular, faces widespread discrimination which contributes to much higher rates of anxiety and depression than in the general population.”

Almost one year ago, Kennett came under fire for saying he believed heterosexual marriages were “better for the mental health of children”. It led to calls for a boycott of men’s health charity fundraiser Movember, to which beyondblue is affliated.

In March this year, he appeared to backflip on the comments, saying he was now in favour of gay marriage.

Beyondblue, together with Movember, has contributed $1.5 million to the new anti-discrimination and stigma-reduction campaign which includes cinema ads, TV, print and outdoor ads, and personal video stories from LGBTI people who have experienced depression and anxiety as a result of discrimination.

Although the campaign is aimed at young men, the message is expected to cut through to the broader mainstream community, Kennett said.

Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said the organisation had focused on raising awareness of depression and anxiety during its first 12 years, but for the next decade it will also focus more on reducing discriminatory and stigmatising behaviour and attitudes.

“This phase of the campaign aims to change attitudes and behaviour towards [LGBTI] people, however, the big picture of our ongoing campaign will work towards reducing discrimination and stigma across the board, including amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse populations and everyone who has depression and anxiety,” Carnell said.

INFO: www.beyondblue.com.au

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