A Toowoomba physician and prominent anti– marital relationship equality campaigner has been criticised by a former head of the Australian Medical Association after accusing marital relationship equality activists of “playing the suicide card”.
Toowoomba medical professional David van Gend, who runs the anti-LGBTI group the Australian Marriage Online forum, wrote a piece for Online Opinion Monday under the headline “Playing the suicide card”.
He singled out Greens leader Richard Di Natale, stating the Greens’ argument that the plebiscite would harm LGBT youth is a “shameful example of political blackmail” and implicated Di Natale of driving youth to suicide.
“We don’t even know if LGBT people suicide more than other people.”
Kerryn Phelps, a former head of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), informed BuzzFeed News she had “extremely major worries” about someone holding such views and dealing with LGBT clients.
Phelps stated it is a well-established truth that LGBT people attempt suicide at a greater rate than the general population.
“It’s not because those people are LGBT, it’s because of the environment they live in and the messages they are getting around their sexual identity,” she stated.
“Van Gend can manipulate the truth to achieve any end he wants, but it doesn’t make it true.”
A 2013 report from the National LGBTI Health Alliance discovered same-sex– brought in Australians are 14 times most likely to try suicide than heterosexual Australians. Amongst young same-sex– brought in people, the rate is six times higher.
Under Phelps, the AMA established a policy on sexuality and gender variety. She lamented the lack of LGBT-specific education for healthcare workers.
““We do know that getting healthcare that is LGBT competent is a major challenge,” she said. “A lot of medical professionals and healthcare employees are gay-friendly, however may not be gay skilled.
“That’s a critical issue in undergraduate and postgraduate education.”
She said van Gend’s comments “do not constitute views that are healthy for a medical practitioner”.