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Older Australians welcome ‘YES’ vote

Feelings of relief from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community are sweeping the country following the announcement of a 61.6 percent ‘yes’ vote in the recent postal plebiscite to allow same sex marriage.

Australia votes 'YES' in same sex marriage survey (Source: Shutterstock)
Australia votes 'YES' in same sex marriage survey (Source: Shutterstock)

The voluntary survey results were announced by an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) spokesperson who says for a voluntary survey, the response rate was ‘outstanding’ and shows how important the issue is to Australians.

The spokesperson added that participation rate was high for older ages and that all up 7,817,247 people voted ‘yes’ in the survey.

One older australian who has welcomed the ‘yes’ announcement from the survey is 82 year old Malloy Rolfe from Adelaide who has identified as lesbian since the age of 12 and has experienced discrimination throughout her life, as well as the death of a long-term partner.

“I am very pleased for everyone - it’s been a long time coming,” Ms Rolfe says.

Fellow LGBTIQ elder, 69-year-old Jamie Gardner from Victoria said in the lead up to the announcement that relief is what would be felt from the passing of marriage equality laws.

“Marriage equality nationally will see the long wait be worthwhile, the shame lifted - it will be relief and validation and a realisation of how troubles were and what a great thing it was to survive and celebrate,” he explained.

Mr Gardner added that the importance of the symbolism and sense of validation and relief would be especially felt by older LGBTIQ folk and said it would be a ‘great thing’.

Director Celebrate Ageing Dr Catherine Barret has been actively involved with a number of initiatives supporting LGBTIQ elders and shared her overwhelming joy at the ’yes’ announcement with Talking Aged Care from a rally.

“For older LGBTIQ Australians this means they can see that the country has changed - we’ve been telling them it has and now they can really see it,” she explains tearfully.

“After what they have been through there are great feelings of relief and lots of tears… it really means a lot.”

While many, including Ms Rolfe, welcome the ‘yes’ result from the vote, there are feelings of disappointment in the way it was executed.

“Though the result has been the yes, I, and many others I know, don’t like how it has been done and the effect it has had on both sides,” Ms Rolfe says.

“The mental health of a lot of people has been effected from it - including myself.”

The impacts of the survey on the mental health of LGBTIQ Australians was recently addressed by the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Barret, and National Ageing Research Institute (NARI).

Final results of the postal survey reveal that 12,727,920 people participated in the survey with 4,873,987 (38.4 percent) voting ‘no’.

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