A doctor invited to Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Summit has claimed new social inclusion programs are needed to defeat the stigma of homosexuality because marginalised youth are being led to unsafe sex, drug overdoses and suicide.

Dr Wendell Rosevear will raise ideas to build esteem and arrest suicide rates in a number of marginalised populations including gay youth, HIV-positive and transgender people, drug users, rape victims and perpetrators.

Invited to the Building communities, supporting families and social inclusion forum, Rosevear wants more youth programs to raise awareness of gay and STI issues, sex offender programs, giving rape victims a choice of seeking mediated resolution instead of a trial, and legalising all drugs -“ which he admits will be controversial.

Our society runs on a hierarchical ladder that says rich is better than poor, straight is better than gay. My whole premise is flip that ladder on its side and say I’m valuable, you’re valuable, and with that it’s about fostering respect for choice and difference and individuality, Rosevear told SSO.

There’s a change of government now that wants to be more inclusive of gay and lesbian people. If we’re serious about suicide prevention, we don’t need to hold on to homophobic attitudes that don’t value people of all sexualities, or hold onto denial or pressure people to conform.

Failure to defeat the stigma of homosexuality will lead to more unsafe sex and drug overdoses, Rosevear claimed.

We can say use condoms, but if people don’t value themselves they know the information but they don’t use it, he said.

Rosevear’s work has involved establishing the Gay and Lesbian Health Centre in Brisbane, speaking about suicide prevention, running a gay and lesbian alcohol and drug support group, and a group for men affected by rape and sexual assault. He has been awarded an Order of Australia medal, the Brisbane Australia Day Citizen of the Year award, and an AMA recognition for individual contribution to the medical profession.

I want to translate that into some practical measures, not just nice words, he said.

I believe in the legalisation of all drugs, so people can experiment and learn, not experiment and die from overdoses of unknown [substances], so we can de-stigmatise drug use and help people feel valuable, not guilty and shameful and hide what they’re doing and not talk about doing it with mum and dad. I’m promoting honesty and acceptance and the value of life.

When you value people and give them choices they start to own their own life rather than spending their life showing the authorities you can’t change me. It’s people who don’t feel valuable who love rebellion. They’ll say, -˜I’ll use drugs to feel a hero.’ People who don’t feel valuable love to put others down, they love to win, go beyond the reach of the authorities or the caring person in their life.

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