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Perspective Into the LGBTIQ+ Community

by | Sep 27, 2020 | Family Law

An increased public health risk exists as a result of homophobic campaign messages for the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) community, including a mental health risk for same sex couples, their children and young people who identify as LGBTIQ+.

Statistics show that young people who express diversity in their sexual orientation or gender identity experience some of the highest rates of psychological distress in Australia. This cohort of young people is significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm and suicide than other young people. These negative outcomes are largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination that they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities regularly endure.

SBS News recently shared an article about transwoman Sally Goldner describing her negative experience with the police some years ago. Two plain-clothes police officers targeted her while she was eating lunch near a park in Melbourne. She told SBS News “they said, quote, ‘this is a park inhabited by paedophiles, what are you doing here?’ “as if to imply, you’re transgender, you’re a paedophile.” Ms Goldner complained about their conduct to what is now the Professional Standards Command but was dissatisfied with their response. She said she was told “Oh, that’s officer so-and-so, he’s a good family man.”

Traumatic experiences like Ms Golder’s could likely be much worse for a transperson of colour. We are fortunate that in Melbourne, there are several organisations that provide culturally appropriate and inclusive legal services to the LGBTIQ+ community.

Lawyer, Sam Elkin who founded the Roberta Perkins Law Project (https://lgbtiqlegal.org.au), which is a free legal service for trans and gender diverse people in Victoria has been operating for almost a year through the St Kilda Legal Service Mr Elkin said that LGBTIQ+ clients were often seeking a response to family violence situations, harassment or discrimination issues.

Research tells us that children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexual couple parents. These findings have been replicated across independent studies in Australia and internationally. The findings of these reviews reflect a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes (eg, parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family), rather than family structures (eg, the number, gender, sexuality or cohabitation arrangements of parents), that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.

Children with same sex parents are emotionally affected when they and their families are exposed to homophobia, discrimination, prejudice and social stigma. They do better when they live in communities that hold more accepting attitudes. Similarly, same-sex couples are at a higher risk of poorer mental health and suicide than heterosexual couples, and living in a society that limits their legal and social rights results in negative psychological outcomes for same-sex parented families.

Nevett Ford is committed to same-sex / gay rights and believes proudly in ensuring that the LGBTQI+ community has greater, more transparent access to family law services. We provide services to the community around family violence, property and parenting issues surrounding separation and pre-nuptial agreements.

Whilst we do not offer Legal Aid at Nevett Ford, depending on the circumstances, we may be able to tailor reasonable costs packaging for our clients. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 03 9614 7111 or email at melbourne@nevettford.com.au to discuss further.

LGBTIQ+ Australians seeking support with mental health can contact QLife on 1800 184 527 or visit qlife.org.au. ReachOut.com also has a list of support services.