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Labor playing gay mental health card: MP

AAP logoAAP 12/09/2016 Jennifer Rajca

A federal government MP has accused Labor of playing the mental health card over a same-sex marriage plebiscite.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who introduced private legislation on Monday to make the change without a national vote, has warned if a single young person took their own life because of the plebiscite campaigns that would be one too many.

His deputy Tanya Plibersek reiterated that position on Tuesday, saying LGBTI young people are about five times more likely to have major depressive episodes.

And one survey at least shows they're about 15 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

"I don't think it's an overstatement to say we should be concerned about that," she told ABC radio.

"Being a teenager who's coming out during a national debate about whether there's something wrong with you, something wrong with the fact that you love someone of the same gender, that's a terrible thing."

But Liberal MP Andrew Laming said the opposition is being "two-faced" by resisting a public vote.

"These are people with no training in mental health pulling a mental health card for their own political purposes," he told reporters in Canberra.

Dr Laming claimed the regular "failure-to-launch" attempts to have parliament make the change was prolonging the uncertainty.

"So the LGBTI community should be acknowledging that there are definite mental health concerns particularly for young adolescents and the fastest way to resolve this is not to protract it.

"That's precisely what Labor's doing purely for political benefit."

The Australian Christian Lobby was disappointed to hear Mr Shorten doesn't have confidence in his fellow Australians to have a respectful debate.

"We've never put out anything into the public square which has been hateful or denigrating our fellow Australians, nor would we want to," managing director Lyle Shelton told ABC radio.

"To conflate this and to suggest that these sort of things might happen really I think is a new low in Australian politics."

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

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