This presentation looks at research from UQ and across the globe that addresses important questions in the same-sex marriage debate. These include: what benefits does a happy marriage confer? How does being denied marriage affect same-sex attracted Australians? How do kids raised by two mums or two dads fare? Do same-sex attracted parents turn out same-sex attracted children?  All the speakers welcome questions and open discussion at the end of the presentation.

In short, the psychological evidence convincingly demonstrates that direct harm is done to same-sex attracted Australians by denying them the opportunity to marry, and there are no adverse societal effects from marriage equality. As part of the UQ’s Global leadership series, School of Psychology lecturer and postdoctoral fellow Dr Fiona Kate Barlow will talk about research from UQ and across the globe that addresses important questions in the same-sex marriage debate. Following Dr Barlow, Dr Sharon Dane, researcher and activist, will talk about her research with thousands of same-sex attracted Australians, and share her personal story. Queensland Senior Australian of the Year, 2011, Shelley Argent will talk about her experiences as a parent of a Gay son, her work as a Gay rights activist, and role in Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Finally, Gay activist, Member of the Order of Australia, and Centenary of Federation winner Rodney Croome will discuss his role in the fight for marriage equality, and recent progress across Australia. In this way, the talk will allow for both science and personal stories. All the speakers welcome questions and open discussion. 

Moderator and Presenter

Dr Fiona Kate Barlow
Dr Fiona Kate Barlow is an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award Postdoctoral Fellow. She also lectures introductory psychology and statistics in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. Fiona is passionate about research, and is loathe to limit her scope. One of her focuses is on intergroup relations in Australia, conducting studies to investigate factors that separate, and bring together different groups in Australia. Her past research has looked at how fear of rejection and race-based anxiety can lead to misunderstandings between Aboriginal, White and Asian Australians. Most recently she has been investigating how interactions and intergroup contact can shape the way that we feel about our own, and other groups. She supervises a lively bunch of PhD students, with whom she does research on additional topics such as self-control (and lack thereof), Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorders, female body image, sex and health, the Asian Australian identity, collective action in women, and contact between same-sex attracted and opposite-sex attracted people. Relevant to the current talk, Fiona has conducted large studies with same-sex attracted Australians, testing the impact of exposure to anti-marriage equality campaigns on their mental health and wellbeing. She presented at the recent senate inquiry into same-sex marriage, is an active member of Psychologists for Marriage Equality, and has met with numerous Senators and MPs in Canberra to present the findings from psychological research on same-sex marriage.  


Dr Sharon Dane
Dr Sharon Dane was awarded a PhD in social psychology from the University of Queensland. She has been researching in the areas of social inclusion and psychological well-being for Australian sexual minorities since 2003. She is a spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality (AME) and Psychologists for Marriage Equality (PME), which are lobby groups working at both state and federal levels for the right to marry, irrespective of the sex of one’s partner. She is the leading author of the widely acclaimed Not So Private Lives study, which is the first national study to examine same-sex attracted Australian’s preferences for different types of relationship recognition since the introduction of de facto status for same-sex couples at a federal level. Sharon presented these findings as a witness at the Federal Senate hearing of the inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 and at a private dinner at The Lodge with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012. Sharon and her partner of 11 years, Elaine, were married in Canada in 2008, a relationship still not recognised in their home country of Australia. 

 Shelley Argent OAM
Shelley Argent is the mother of 2 adult sons and was fortunate enough to be a stay at home Mum. Her son James “came out” in year 12 while she was at university studying for a Social Science Degree, majoring in Child and Family. After finishing her degree, Shelley went to work as a volunteer for the Queensland Aids Council to understand what her son’s life would be like. While there she did several safe sex and emotional support courses and worked on a number of educational campaigns. She is now the National Spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), which is an international organisation that provides 100% voluntary peer support to other parents striving to understand and support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sons and daughters. Shelley also works to educate the general community and advocates for equality with both State and Federal Government on LGBT issues. Some of Shelley’s other achievements include Senior Queensland of the Year for 2011; has authored a book called Opening the Door; appeared on ABC’s Australian Story and was voted one of Australia’s Most Inspirational Women in 2011 by the Sydney Morning Herald. 

Rodney Croome AM
Rodney Croome is a long-timer advocate for LGBTI human rights and for marriage equality. In 2003 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his gay and lesbian human rights advocacy. He is currently the Campaign Director of Australian Marriage Equality.
Rodney fronted the successful campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania. That campaign saw Tasmanian activists take their case to the United Nations, the Federal Government and the High Court. He has also been the editor of the Tasmanian literary magazine, Island.

About Global Leadership Series

The Global Leadership Series (GLS) is a lively program of events for alumni and community members. Join us for lectures and discussions with the best of the best UQ-related speakers on matters that impact your community and shape your ideas of the world.

The series is an opportunity for you to engage with great minds on global matters, participate in thought-provoking discussions and network with UQ alumni and community members. All alumni, parents, community members and friends are welcome to attend the Global Leadership Series events.

Listen to podcasts of previous GLS events click here


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