A fresh fight has broken out over marriage equality after the Australian Medical Association came out in support for bipartisan change.
President Michael Gannon has penned letters to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten, calling for a bipartisan approach to the issue.
“It is often forgotten that, at the core of this debate, are real people and families. It’s time to put an end to this protracted, damaging debate so that they can get on with their lives,” Dr Gannon said in a statement on Saturday.
“As long as the discrimination against LGBTIQ people continues, they will continue to experience poorer health outcomes as a result.”
Marriage equality advocates and deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek welcomed the AMA’s statement.
“The AMA has highlighted what we have known for many years – legal inequality leads directly to poorer health outcomes for LGBTI people,” just.equal spokesperson Ivan Hinton-Teoh said.
“I know that a lot of doctors … had grave concerns about what a plebiscite would do to the mental health of people who would be subjected to public discussion and assessment of the worth of their relationships,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney.
She said the parliament could legislate for marriage equality when it resumed next week if it wanted to – a claim echoed by Greens leader Richard Di Natale, a doctor himself.
“The prime minister should listen to Australia’s doctors and act now to remove discrimination, which will make our society more equal and more healthy,” he said.
But cabinet minister Simon Birmingham, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage, said parliament was denied the opportunity of giving the people a say, “which, if that had happened through a national plebiscite, would have been resolved by now”.
“Just as the AMA is entitled to their view, we want to give all Australians an opportunity to have their say too,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
The coalition maintained its policy of holding a national vote, he said.
“If Bill Shorten got out of the way the Australian people could have that say,” Senator Birmingham said.