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Comment: The priorities of the LGBT community lie away from marriage

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  1. It’s not a Zero Sum Economy, you know. Focus can be on Marriage as well as health.

    1. Nathan Sparling 26 Feb 2013, 12:24pm

      I think you’re right – I don’t think I ever said that marriage shouldn’t be on the agenda. I worry that it will be used to silence the community with ‘well we gave you marriage, now you’re equal’ unless we shout about other priorities.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Feb 2013, 12:29pm

        I really don’t think that’s going to be the case. Other programmes have been cut, not just those relating to gay health-related issues. I don’t think the government is trying to silence anyone.

      2. Well, that’s easy — keep up the pressure on those other priorities and don’t let your government think that they’re done with it. If the government starts to say “now you’re equal,” make them live up to it.

        Don’t think for a minute that because of the media focus on marriage, we’ve forgotten about other things. We have the same thing going on in the States — marriage is the big controversy and gets all the attention. That doesn’t mean that we’re not working on homeless LGBT youth, bullying and teen suicide, rising incidence of HIV among young gay men, workplace protections, the whole shopping list. If funding is being cut for essential services, you need to nail the idiots who are trying to ruin your economy, lest it become a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul. (Here, we call them “Republicans”.) That’s an opportunity for alliance-building and getting broader support for at least part of our agenda.

      3. Julian Morrison 26 Feb 2013, 2:26pm

        “Now you’re equal” has been an excuse for ages (it was also used with civil unions). The answer is simply not to stand for it. There’s a number of issues that need fixing, and we will have to continue to raise them.

        As for dividing religion: let them be divided.

    2. What is needed is better knowledge of trans issues among the whole mental health profession generally.

  2. I thought it was the Civil Servants than ran the country – not the Government

    1. PantoHorse 26 Feb 2013, 1:08pm

      The govt, politicians in general, are often mere mouthpieces for their wealthy backers.

  3. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Feb 2013, 12:26pm

    If government can’t multi-task then it’s unfit to be in power. Studies in America have shown that the mental health and well-being improves the mental health and well-being of gay couples who have married in states where it is legal.

    Yes, it’s true, there are significant health issues that are being ignored but to imply that equal marriage isn’t a priority feeds into the hate and fear mongering by those in opposition. This is just the sort of thing that they thrive on. I find this article though probably well-intended, not to be very helpful, in fact, irresponsible.

    1. The Gov has clearly shown it cannot multitask, when it comes to health related issues such as HIV & the increase in STI’s. There is currently no National HIV / STI strategy & hasn’t been since 2010. The National AIDS Trust have published a “shadow policy” yet the Government do not seem to show political will to get to grips with the problem of HIV / STI’s in general, let alone the health of the LGBT people.

      Equal Marriage is of course extremely important, but it really isn’t the only issue we or the Gov should be focusing on. We need real investment if we are to see a reduction in the levels of HIV / STI’s amongst MSM. Given that the lifetime cost of HIV meds can be around £200k (not to mention the clinical infra-structure costs) it really is simple economics – invest in a National TV / radio / high profile HIV awareness campaign & see the savings in later years in the cost of caring for people with HIV.

      The £2.4million per annum investment in HIV Prevention England is a pittance!

      1. I would also add that if we continue to see a rise in HIV incidence amongst the UK born Heterosexuals population (which is a time bomb waiting to happen) I would put money on the fact that the Gov will act, there is clearly a health inequality that needs to be addressed alongside Equal Marriage.

  4. While I agree that mental health issues are a problem for the community, I would argue that treatment and services – especially now as budgets are slashed – are coming close to being bloody useless no matter WHAT your sexual orientation is.

    The key issue is very much one of prevention being better than cure. Sure, it doesn’t help the already affected, but with progressive changes in culture and society we can look at removing some of the stressors that feed into mental health crisis.

    Marriage is part of that. Work to try and reduce the impact of bullying, another. Media representation and greater focus on how we are presented (AP reporting guidelines, for example, responded to pressure, this is a good thing).

    And if we deal with MH issues, a lot of the drink & drugs crisis’ will also be resolved.

    The STI issue? Individuals have to take some responsibility for themselves. Consenting competent adults are expected to make better choices – gay or straight.

    1. Absolutely right! Very well said, Valksy. A lot of mental health issues in the LGBT community are related to or worsened by direct or indirect homophobia and inequality. EM is a step towards improving that, albeit gradually.

      I completely agree with your last paragraph too. Your sexual health is YOUR responsibility!

  5. Terry Stewart 26 Feb 2013, 12:37pm

    The argument about marriage is central to the issue of equality, without that equality the rest of the wider community will not have that mind shift towards allowing us to have our full rights.

    Issues of Illhealth can come from two directions. The first one being in a social setting which is driven by drugs and Alcohol, which is very much a reflection of most venues that identify with the LGBT community, yet offer nothing but wrecked lives and illhealth.

    We should be fighting for better health provision, but I don’t think shaking buckets around the very venues which give rise to our illhealth is the solution.

    The second place where our illhealth springs from, is Inequality, leading to isolation, bullying self arm and suicide.

    We need to tackle both in order to begin to have healthier live, we need to have a full on campaign to force Government to make that provision. and nothing less.

  6. Jock S. Trap 26 Feb 2013, 12:40pm

    I think All Equality go hand in hand whether it be marriage or health.

    Fact is only with equality can we effectively deal with discrimination.

    I think Nathan is wrong about this, both are equally important.

    The upsetting of religion is a fault of the religious only (thats that disagree with marriage equality anyway!).

    The health issue is also very important and yes some vital services have lessened but that is no reason to put marriage on hold. If anything it’s more of a reason to fight to end marriage discrimination in favour of fighting for other vital areas.

    1. Nathan Sparling 26 Feb 2013, 1:05pm

      I never suggested putting marriage on hold, just that we risk the ‘well you’ve got all you ask for’ comments unless we shout for what’s important – our health.

      1. PantoHorse 26 Feb 2013, 1:12pm

        Our health is directly linked to greater equality on society.

  7. I wouldn’t pay much attention to this. Seems like Nathan is just trying to get himself publiciity again. He is well known in Scotland for highjacking other people’s campaigns. Hence his poor repuation in the equality movement up here.

  8. This dude is spot fucking on. In America, most politicians don’t care about the queer community, they just want the or points. Gay marriage is an easy pr win for liberals. The reason health improves in states with gay marriage is they are usually states with already good health care and because people also push for improved lgbt health care. Once we have gay marriage we will lose youth ally interest and most ‘ally’ interest overall. It’ll be harder, not easier. In the same way that desegregation did not end racism, which prevails strongly to this day, gay marriage will not make us equal

    1. Michael Anthony 26 Feb 2013, 3:43pm

      While I agree with what you say about politicians, I think you are wrong to write off the youth and other allies. Those groups recognize that poor health care is a problem for many, REGARDLESS of whether one is straight, gay, big or trans. I can’t fight for increased money for gay health issues unless I do the same for other health issues. I am just as concerned about the rise of STIs as I am in the rise of breast cancer deaths for African American women in the deep south. We fight for marriage EQUALITY, thus the fight for health care dollars should also be about EQUALITY!

  9. PantoHorse 26 Feb 2013, 1:11pm

    His might.

    To me marriage equality will go a long way to LGBT people being seen more equally in society, which is worth masses, and go a long way to helping reduce the stress LGBT people feel that feeds into so many other areas of our general wellbeing.

    I’m not dumb enough not to know that cuts and austerity disproportionately affect LGBT people, so I don’t think for a minute anyone is going to say well we’ve got marriage, let’s sit back and relax.

  10. “The UK Government seeks easy political wins in order to smokescreen real problems amongst our community – that’s the real motivation behind their rushing through of the legislation.”

    Really? Is it not more that they want to score political points and look like they’re a ‘changed’ party more than it is to ‘smokescreen real problems’ of ours? You should have elaborated on that point.

    Your point about health is a valid one, but was there a need to take away from the hard work that campaigners have done for marriage equality?

    The equal recognition of marriage in the law will help normalise homosexuality further and directly impact on the mental health and perhaps sexual health of our community.

    All these issues are tied in – you seem not to have realised this.

    This article should have been written in a completely different way, e.g. “we’ve shown we can make a difference through the equal marriage campaigns: let’s try and do something about our community’s health”, or something.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Feb 2013, 2:11pm

      I agree. There is also a direct link to bullying and a high rate of suicide as a result of inequality further impacting the mental and sexual health of the victims. When we are treated differently, viewed differently which is what CPs actually do, it gives those so inclined to vilify and deny us equality and in some cases can result in violence, at times with fatal consequences. Equal marriage is the most important step towards full equality and inclusion.

      1. Exactly. :)

  11. Nathan is spot on – we have for too long allowed successive Governments to get away with paying lip service to the health needs of the LGBT population.

    Trying to get any sort of help & support for mental health issues is a huge mission, charities have had their funding salami sliced into ever smaller contracts which are now unable to provide the decent services required.

    Last year the DoH pulled the plug on THT Direct phone service & awarded a National Sexual Health phone-line contract to Serco, who invariably still refer people inquiring about HIV to the substantially reduced THT Direct service – bureaucratic madness at it’s finest!

    There is an increasing reliance on volunteer peer support & educators, with little or no backing because there simply is no money to provide the basics such as adequate training, weekly supervision & other support structures.

    Equal Marriage is not the only gig in town no matter how important it is for equality. We need health equality as well!

  12. I don’t agree that Scotland has led on this issue for sometime. Until the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, no party in Scotland (except the Lib Dems & Greens) were advancing the cause of same sex marriage. In fact, the SNP government in their first term 2007-2011, knocked back the oppurtunity to introduce it 6 times via a public petition, saying it was’t a priority.

    However,I recognise the important and massive step the SNP Scottish government have made in taking the steps to legislate for it. They deserve credit for doing so.

    I don’t really understand this rivalry between the 2 governments over it, though. Both the UK and Scottish governments have taken very similar processes, so I’m not sure I’d agree that one is more comitted than the other.

    The Scottish Government is also going through every possible consultation stage when it’s not a necessary step for legislation. In fact, I’m told that only one other Bill has ever been put to 2 consultations like the Equal Marriage Bill.

    1. Nathan Sparling 26 Feb 2013, 3:05pm

      BennieM – To clarify, I didn’t mean any Government – I meant Scottish LGBT Activists. Sorry for confusion.

      1. Nathan, it’s not really clarified things for me, I’m afraid! In your article, you repeatedly refer to both the UK and Scottish governments yet now say you meant Scottish LGBT activists.

        If you mean that Scottish LGBT activists rather than the Scottish government have been leading on the equal marriage issue, then you can hardly use that to criticise the UK government. But in the very same sentence where you say Scotland has led on the issue, you go on to specifically mention David Cameron, as if saying the UK government has lagged far behind Scotland in this issue. It’s unfair to compare UK government action with Scottish LGBT activist action as a measure of who is more committed.

        I’m sure you can understand why I’m a wee bit confused!

  13. “I believe that the Scottish Government has our interests as a community at heart”

    Does this include Scottish government Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham? She is responsible for marriage law of any kind yet has refused to deal with the equal marriage Bill from the outset. Civil servants from her department are still involved in it, and it was the previous Community Safety & Legal Affairs minister, Fergus Ewing, who handled the matter in the SNP’s first term in government – when he repeated 6 times that equal marraige wasn’t a priority and the SG had no plans to introduce it. Why is Roseanna Cunningham allowed to shirk her ministerial duties due to her homophobia?

  14. I have worked in public health for many years. Many factors influence people’s health and these wider determinants of health are where you need to look to address the root causes of health inequalities. Marriage equality is NOT a separate issue from health, in fact it is the single largest measure that could improve health in the LGBT community.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Feb 2013, 2:44pm

      Totally agree with that. Well said.

  15. I find this article very simplistic. It attacks the UK government and praises the Scottish government without really backing up any claims with detailed evidence.

    I’m no fan of either the UK or Scottish governments – both should be praised for bringing forward equal marriage but to try and make out the Scottish government was somehow better in it’s handling of equal marriage is simply not true.

    In fact, one example of the opposite being true, is the UK government stated from the outset that it was going to legislate while the Scottish government didn’t even make that commitment – they took months to decide whether to do so.

    1. I’ve just googled Nathan Sparling, the writer of this article. It seems he’s a Parliamentary assistant/researcher to 2 SNP MSPs – which I notice it doesn’t mention in his list of credentials at the end of his article.

      Now I see why this article is so biased against the UK government and in favour of the Scottish government.

      I have no problem in anyone criticising or praising governments, even people involved with a particular politcal party, but at least be honest about your reasons for doing so.

  16. I think marriage debate has been a useful tool, tho, an has got us a step forward in some ways. But has it brought down the number of LGB teen suicides?

    1. It’ll be hard to measure – especially in the short term.

    2. We can’t expect it to help overnight, but it may help in the future, qv. You’ve got to remember, that same sex marriage is still not on the statute books, although it’s well on it’s way. But after 20 or 30 years, it may be accepted as a normal part of life in Britain, so much so that homophobia and stigma about being gay will be nowhere near as bad as it today. So marriage equality is an important step in ensuring that there are gay teen suicides in the future.

      1. My last sentence of my previous comment should have read that marriage equality is an important step in ensuring that there are NO gay teen suicides in the future.

  17. The phrase ‘LGBT activist’ gets up my nose here. Not in my name you’re not, Mr.

    There are a lot of politically active people on these threads, who appear not to share your views, and who don’t need to commandeer the title.

    As has been said before, marriage equality will bring in (over time) significant health benefits for LGBT people as well as much more. Once it’s in, we can get onto the next issue.

    1. I think you make a good point, wingby. What constitutes an LGBT activist? Does it mean I’m one because I’ve e-mailed my MSPs/MPs/MEPs to urge them to support gay equality? Or do you have to be more involved than that? Does signing a petition count? What about going on a protest march? Or is it only people who actually work for an LGBT rights organisation who can be called an LGBT activist?

    2. There’s no way he is an “LGBT activist” – as someone who was a student at the time he was the NUS’s LGBT officer I can tell you he did more harm than good. Just ask any gay students about Nathan Sparling – no one has anything good to say about him. This article shows why.

  18. Nathan, for those of us working hard against great opposition to get Equal Marriage through, your opinion seems absurd.

    Equality is gained step-by-step. Equal Marriage is an extremely important step. It’s not possible to place “too much importance” on it.

    But once we gain Equal Marriage, IF we gain it, that will most certainly NOT be the end of the work to be done. We all know that, particularly after having witnessed the virulent and widespread hatred of homosexuals that has been demonstrated by so many people at all levels of society in the course of the last six months.

  19. You do realise Nathan that marriage equality means more than people getting married? It is a powerful symbol of equality and will go some way towards dispelling the “otherness” of the gay community. Once attitudes change towards gay people, issues like the health problems and other problems we face will be that much easier to address because they will be stripped of the stigma that kept them from being addressed for so long. It is a vital and necessary step, and far more likely to work out if people don’t continually attack it for “not being enough”.

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