LGBTI Australians have reported a shocking increase in the amount of verbal and physical harassment during the postal survey campaign, according to new research.
The Australia Institute and the National LGBTI Health Alliance have released the preliminary findings of a survey of 9,500 LGBTI Australians, as well as friends and family, as debate continues on the marriage equality bill in the House of Representatives.
LGBTI respondents said experiences of verbal and physical assaults in the 3 months following the announcement of the postal survey more than doubled, compared to the 6 months prior to the announcement.
The survey found almost 80% of LGBTI respondents and almost 60% of allies said they found the marriage equality debate “considerably or extremely stressful.”
Almost 70 per cent of those surveyed said they “avoided being with people in general” at least some of the time as a coping mechanism, but 80% of respondents participated to some degree in affirmative activities such as attending marches, raising awareness or displaying ‘yes’ or rainbow images.
Reported experiences of depression, anxiety and stress rose by a third during the survey campaign, researchers said.
“It will take time to fully analyse this data, in particular long-form responses, however initial results show that the debate was a highly stressful event for many LGBTIQ+ people and their allies,” lead researcher Dr Ecker said.
National LGBTI Health Alliance Executive Director Rebecca Reynolds said the public debate had been “exhausting and frequently painful” for the LGBTI community.
The Australia Institute’s deputy director Ebony Bennett said the result of the postal survey was overwhelmingly positive “but this debate has taken a real toll” on the community.
“This survey shows the real human impact of the marriage equality debate as well as the resilience of a community that has faced discrimination for decades,” she said.
“We hope this study captures those experiences in a meaningful way.”
The survey’s preliminary results can be viewed here.