The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has come out in support of marriage equality, after doctors accused it of sitting on the fence on an issue that impacts LGBTI health.

RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel said in a statement that the college supports marriage equality “as part of valuing diversity and inclusion”, while acknowledging the “absolute right” of members to hold their own views, according to The Guardian.

Seidel called marriage equality “a human rights issue” and said the RACGP shared the Australian National Mental Health Commission’s concern that “the prolonged debate has heightened discrimination against [LGBTI] people”.

Other medical bodies including the Royal Australian College of Physicians and the Australian Medical Association had already endorsed marriage equality.

The RACGP had previously attracted criticism for not taking a similar stand on marriage equality, with doctors calling its neutral position “appalling” and saying it was “supporting discriminatory behaviour”.

Marriage equality advocate Dr Kerryn Phelps, former president of the Australian Medical Association, said, “People who have a sense of fairness and justice are talking about voting yes.”

Phelps said many LGBTI people had been “distressed” by the no campaign.

Seidel said the RACGP acknowledged that “discrimination, bullying and harassment of [LGBTI] people does have a severe, damaging impact on mental and physical health outcomes for affected individuals, their families and communities”.

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