Email telling Westpac employees to vote yes wrongly claims that “legalising SSM would prevent 3000 suicides per year”

Westpac has been forced to defend an email from a staff networking group telling fellow employees to vote Yes in the same-sex marriage survey, erroneously claiming that doing so would prevent 3000 suicides a year.

The email, which went to all Westpac and St George bank staff, pointed out that the banking giant had signed an open letter in 2016 professing support for marriage equality.

“While we’re not one to tell anyone how to roll, this is a no-brainer (if Tony Abbott’s daughter is publicly voting Yes, so should you),” the email, authorised by the bank’s Youth Network, said.

“Along with ensuring all our colleagues and mates feel included and have equal rights, legalising SSM would prevent 3,000 suicides per year.”

However according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 2866 deaths via suicide in 2016, down from 3027 the year before.

Those figures do not provide a breakdown via sexuality or gender identity, or reveal extenuating factors such as mental illness.

The bank quickly distanced itself from the actions of the group, with a spokesman describing the network as “a group of young, enthusiastic Westpac employees who get together to discuss a range of issues”.

“A note will be issued to the Youth Network acknowledging this.
“As an organisation, Westpac supports marriage equality, however we understand there is a range of views within any large organisation and we respect that. We are encouraging our employees to have their say, we are not telling them how to vote.”

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, who has been a vocal critic of corporations that have weighed in on the divisive issue, urged the bank to get back to taking care of its shareholders and customers.

“Why are these companies involved in political campaigns?” he told Ray Hadley on 2GB this morning.

“Stick to your knitting. I don’t want sporting organisations or groups involved in delivering banking services telling us how to live our lives.”

Source: The Australian


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