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Feeling outraged by the marriage equality debate? You’re not alone. With so many people talking about it, you might feel isolated or confused by everything you’re hearing. During this time, it’s important to remember to look after yourself and to ask for help if it becomes too overwhelming.

This can help if:

  • you're wondering what's happening with the marriage equality debate
  • you're feeling affected by the debate
  • you want to know how to take care of yourself during the debate.
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What's the deal?

The government is going to run a voluntary postal vote by the public to see how many Australians support marriage equality.

The survey forms will be sent out from 12 September. Australians are strongly encouraged to return their forms by 27 October, with a final return date of 7 November. The result will be announced on 15 November.

The question the public will be asked to respond to will be: ‘Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?’

Following the announcement of the vote, there has been an increase in negative conversations about and opinions on same-sex marriage, especially in the media.

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Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return... gender or sexual orientation has nothing to do with it - Maizy.

How can this debate hurt me?

While the debate about same-sex marriage continues, you might find that lots of questions come up for you, such as: Where do I fit in the world? Who do I want to be? Is my sexuality okay? Does society accept me for who I am? Is my relationship valid?

LGBTQI+ people may feel discriminated against during this time. The discussion around whether same-sex relationships are legally equal to heterosexual ones can bring up distressing and negative emotions.

You should never be made to feel that you are less than anyone else. And you definitely shouldn’t have to put up with being bullied about your gender identity or sexuality at school, in your workplace or anywhere else (see our bullying content here).

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Marriage equality allows young people to feel free enough to be who they are without judgement from any other persons - Madeleine.

How to look after yourself

Know there are people on your side

Eighty-one per cent of young people aged 18–24 support marriage equality (Galaxy 2012), so try to surround yourself with positive people. Approach LGBTQI+ services and counsellors if you want additional support.

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Look after yourself if you get involved

While you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so, volunteering your time to the cause (by sharing your story publicly or handing out flyers) can be a good way to feel a part of what’s going on and to connect with other LGBTQI+ people. Be sure to keep yourself emotionally and physically safe (you could contact LGBTQI+ support services for advice).

Monitor your media

If your Facebook feed starts to get cluttered with negative voices, feel free to unfollow any people and publications whose views you find unsupportive. If you start getting overwhelmed by the amount of information, consider taking a break from all the media coverage.

Practise self-care

When anything tough is going on, it’s important to take care of yourself, because that can be when we’re most vulnerable. Take time out to socialise and to do things you enjoy; eat healthily, take some exercise and get enough sleep; and practise relaxation techniques if you’re feeling stressed. There are more tips for staying strong during the debate here.

Talk to someone you trust

You don’t have to bottle up your feelings. Sharing them with a parent, trusted friend or counsellor can help if you’re feeling isolated and alone. Tell your trusted support person how they can help you. Maybe you only need them to listen to you in a non-judgemental way, to help you find relevant support services or to check in regularly to see how you’re doing. If you have same-sex parents, remember that other people’s opinions don’t change how your parents feel about you or how much your family loves you.

Remember that you’re not alone. The LGBTQI+ community is incredibly resilient, strong and courageous.

What can I do now?