Matt Canavan tells those worried about debate to ‘grow a spine’

Nationals Senator Matt Canavan has dismissed concerns that the national debate on marriage equality will have an adverse effect on people’s mental health.

The former cabinet minister was questioned today on Sky News about a statement from the National Mental Health Commission saying the debate will be detrimental to LGBTI+ Australians.

“Can’t we just all grow a spine and grow up? I mean, the debate hasn’t been that bad,” Senator Canavan said.

The Queensland senator said if there were any complaints to be made, they would be regarding those advocating for a YES vote.

“Some of the vile tweets and statements we’ve heard from YES campaigners… but I can ignore that,” Canavan continued.

“Apparently if you hold a different view, if you hold a traditional view of marriage, you’re a bigot.”

The National Mental Health Commission’s statement, to which the senator was responding, outlines concerns about “unacceptable sentiments” featured in the national conversation.

“LGBTIQ people have been experiencing damaging behavior in their workplaces, communities and in social and traditional media,” National Mental Health Commission Co-Chair Professor Allan Fels said.

“The Commission is alarmed about the potential negative health impacts these debates are having on individuals, couples and families who face scrutiny and judgement.”

Fellow Co-Chair Lucy Brogden said empirical evidence debunks the myths around marriage equality, yet some opponents continue to spread damaging, emotive mistruths.

“The mistruths being expressed around marriage equality are making some people feel anxious and depressed,” Brogden said.

“This is despite proof that international studies show marriage equality has positive effects, improving the health outcomes, mental and physiological, for LGBTI people.

“For example, same sex marriage policies are associated with a reduction in the proportion of high school students reporting suicide attempts, according to research in America.

“Another myth opponents of same sex marriage claim, is that children from same sex parent families experience poorer health and social outcomes – research contradicts this,” Brogden said.

“Research confirms children raised in same sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers from heterosexual families.”

Mrs Brogden said that it is everyone’s responsibility to treat people with respect and care in their community during this sensitive time.

The Commission maintains that the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ people should be at the heart of any debate about marriage equality.

OIP Staff

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