Law Society of NSW president Pauline Wright, NSW Bar Association president Arthur Moses SC and Australian Medical Association (NSW) president Professor Brad Frankum recently issued a joint statement in support of the legalisation of same-sex marriage at a federal level.
The hotly debated issue has brought together the principle of equality before the law and the mental health concerns associated with discrimination, according to the statement.
“Our organisations support the introduction of marriage equality laws and consider that legislation that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is fundamentally wrong,” the trio said.
Mr Moses noted the significance of the issue prompted the extraordinary joint statement from leaders in the legal and medical professions.
“This is an important issue. The rule of law requires that all Australians are treated equally,” Mr Moses said.
“Discrimination in the Marriage Act on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is contrary to the rule of law.”
Ms Wright said denying same-sex couples the right to marry could contravene international law.
“The Law Society of NSW is committed to ensuring that all Australians are equal before the law in rights and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ms Wright said.
“Failing to recognise same-sex marriage can have a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and their families, including those in the legal profession.
“It may also amount to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation which is contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a signatory.”
Professor Frankum said the negative mental health impacts of discriminatory legislation make it a serious medical issue.
“I’m very happy to be joining the Law Society of NSW and NSW Bar Association to campaign jointly on this issue,” Professor Frankum said.
“We know that marriage laws, as they exist now, have adverse health consequences for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and intersex people.
“Doctors have a duty to both treat and prevent illness, and for me, that also means rejecting discrimination in all its forms.”
The statement follows the launch of a marriage equality campaign by Marque Lawyers, supported by notable members of the profession, including Professor Gillian Triggs, Professor George Williams AO and Michelle Painter SC.
Three representatives of Maddocks recently appeared on The Lawyers Weekly Show to talk about the firm’s LGBTI diversity and inclusion initiatives ahead of Wear it Purple Day on 25 August.