Australia's peak organisation for sociologists has panned a plebiscite on marriage equality calling for a free vote instead.
The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) today released a statement in the name of its president, Assoc Prof Katie Hughes, that reads in part,
"We believe as Sociologists that any move which implicitly or explicitly encourages an intensification of abuse or violence, whether verbal or physical, increases the risk of adverse social and health consequences for LGBTI citizens."
"TASA believes that the debate on whether to amend the Marriage Act should not be undertaken through a protracted plebiscite process that will increase stigma, fear, and isolation among LGBTI people; but instead be undertaken by Parliament without any further delay."
The statement cites Federation University lecturer and TASA board member, Luke Gahan, whose research shows young LGBTI people of faith are particularly vulnerable to the kind of abuse expected during a plebiscite.
"My research has shown young LGBTI people of faith are very vulnerable to prejudice wrapped in religion, which is just the kind of prejudice that will stride the stage of a plebiscite", Mr Gahan said.
Ivan Hinton-Teoh, spokesperson for LGBTI advocacy group, just.equal, welcomed the TASA statement.
"The TASA statement highlights the growing body of research into the vulnerability of LGBTI people to public hate and fear-mongering."
Meanwhile, the Tasmanian Law Society has added its voice to the growing chorus of opposition to a plebiscite.
TLS president, Matt Verney said,
"It is dangerous to subject to the whim of popular vote the rights of minorities. Regardless of popularity, people are either equal or not.”
Mr Hinton-Teoh called on other professional law bodies to follow the TLS lead and publicly condemn plebiscite.
"The proposed marriage equality plebiscite set a dangerous precedent for law making in Australia", he said.
For the TASA statement, see attachement or click here
For a news report on the Tasmanian Law Society statements, click here
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