Release with the Hon Julie Collins MP, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health

Comments by Senator Canavan labelling people offended by the vile material coming out of the marriage equality debate as “delicate little flowers” is both callous and dangerous and shows an appalling lack of judgement. 

Senator Canavan should be ashamed of himself.

When responding to the National Mental Health Commission’s statement, which outlined its concerns regarding the detrimental impact that the marriage equality debate will have on LGBTI people’s mental health, this is how Senator Canavan responded:

JAYES: I just want to quickly ask you about the National Mental Health Commission - it has sent out a statement this morning. This looks unusual to me. Professor Alan Fels, the Commission's co-chair has said that they're concerned about the detrimental mental health impacts on the marriage equality debate, saying that basically this is being affected - well, this is directed towards people that are in same sex relationship, unacceptable sentiments, damaging behaviour in workplaces and communities. What do you say to that? This is a Government body.

CANAVAN: Oh, can't we all just grow a spine and grow up? I mean, the debate hasn't been that bad and indeed, if there is any complaints to be had, it’s from those who advocate Yes. Some of the vile tweets and statements we've heard from the Yes campaigners. I can ignore that. Let's stop being delicate little flowers and have a proper debate.



He clearly does not understand the hurt his comments could cause.

The National Mental Health Commission is a reputable agency and the concerns raised by Co-Chairs Professor Allan Fels and Lucy Brogden should be well respected. 

If we have to have this debate it must be civil and respectful and must not negatively impact on the wellbeing of the LGBTI community.

According to BeyondBlue, the mental health of LGBTI people is among the poorest in Australia, with lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians twice as likely to have a high/very high level of psychological distress as their heterosexual peers.

Statistics also show that young LGBTI people are six times more likely to die from suicide.

There is no room for any person to be given a license to air hateful, ignorant or unsubstantiated views that may cause harm.

This includes Senator Canavan.

This is precisely what Labor warned the Turnbull Government against when it decided to pursue its $122 million non-binding postal survey of the Australian public.

The pressure is obviously getting to the Liberals in relation to this failed excursion into uncharted territory -- this postal survey on whether to permit people in same-sex relationships to have the same human rights as others.

We don’t need a $122 million non-binding postal survey. We just need to do our jobs and pass legislation. That’s what parliament is for.



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