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28 Sep 2017

Seven former Federal AMA Presidents, dating back to 1998, have gone public to support the AMA Position Statement on Marriage Equality, and to campaign for a Yes vote in the postal ballot on the basis that marriage equality is a health issue.

The high profile medical leaders – Dr David Brand [AMA President 1998-2000], Professor Kerryn Phelps AM [2000-2003], Dr Bill Glasson AO [2003-2005], Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO [2005-2007], Dr Andrew Pesce [2009-2011], Dr Steve Hambleton [2011-2014], and Professor Brian Owler [2014-16] – all recorded personal messages for a video that is being strongly supported on social media and YouTube by doctors and medical students and members of the public.

Dr Brand, Professor Phelps, Dr Glasson, Dr Hambleton, and Professor Owler followed up their video messages by leading the AMA Doctors’ Rally for Marriage Equality in Martin Place, Sydney, on 16 September.

The former Federal Presidents and AMA NSW President, Professor Brad Frankum, took turns to tell the rally of more than 200 doctors and medical students why they supported marriage equality.

Professor Frankum said it is an issue of human rights and inclusiveness.

“But it is certainly a health issue. Discrimination in any form has health consequences,” Prof Frankum said.

Dr Glasson said we should have acceptance of diversity.

“We are a diverse country in terms of sex, religion, social ideology. And that diversity should remain and make us stronger. And so, on this issue, this will even make our country even stronger and bind us closer together,” Dr Glasson said.

A long-term campaigner for marriage equality who was forced to marry her partner, Jackie, overseas, Professor Phelps also stressed it was a health issue, and shared her own experiences of campaigning for equality for more than 20 years.

“It’s something that is important to us as a profession, and to the health professions generally. Marriage equality is an issue for ourselves, our colleagues, our patients, our friends, our families,” Professor Phelps said.

The love of family and respect for colleagues were at the heart of the message conveyed by Dr Hambleton.

“This is all about all sorts of people we engage with every day. This is about friends I went to uni with. It is about our colleagues at work. It is about our neighbours. It is about our brothers and sisters. And sometimes it is about our children,” Dr Hambleton said.

“My own daughter has found her life partner and hasn’t been able to stand up in front of her family and friends and colleagues and make that commitment publicly.”

Dr Brand said that some would argue that social issues are not something that doctors should be involved in, “which is just crazy”.

“Unemployment, homelessness, education, even climate change, are all social issues that are going to have an impact on health over time. We need to see marriage equality as a really crucial, important issue for a marginalised and picked-on part of our community,” Dr Brand said.

Rounding out the speeches, Professor Owler told the crowd that marriage equality is all about freedom from the negative health impacts of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred – something the LGBQIT community is all too familiar with.

“It is about the freedom of two people to declare their love for each other, to have it celebrated by their family and friends. This is about freedom to have that love accepted by the community and for that love to be recognised under Australian law,” Professor Owler said.

Dr Haikerwal and Dr Pesce could not attend the rally, which was organised by AMA NSW, but sent messages of support. AMA NSW also provided the resources and personnel to produce the video of the former Presidents’ messages.


PIC: Professor Brian Owler, Dr Steve Hambleton, Professor Kerryn Phelps, Dr Bill Glasson, Dr David Brand, and Professor Brad Frankum at the rally in support of marriage equality.



Published: 28 Sep 2017