Legalising same-sex marriage will help reduce high rates of suicide among young people in Australia

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In Australia, same-sex attracted young people are six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than their heterosexual peers.
from shutterstock.com

Jo Robinson, University of Melbourne; Eleanor Bailey, University of Melbourne, and Pat McGorry, University of Melbourne

Australia remains one of the last English-speaking countries in the developed world not to legally recognise same-sex marriage. If the upcoming postal survey indicates public support for marriage equality, a conscience vote will be held in parliament. If not, it’s unlikely that same-sex couples will be able to marry for as long as the current government remains in office.


Further information – Mathias Cormann on the same-sex marriage postal survey


This would be quite a harmful outcome for the health of same-sex attracted couples, who are already at higher risk of poorer mental health outcomes and suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. This is directly associated with the stigma and discrimination to which they are exposed on a daily basis.

Research shows that in countries and jurisdictions that have legalised same-sex marriage, there is a much smaller gap between the rates of poor mental health among same-sex attracted and heterosexual people. This is particularly the case with young people, for whom suicide rates have a been a significant national concern for decades.

Just this week, a national study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that 10% of 14-15-year-olds reported that they had self-harmed in the previous 12 months, and 5% had attempted suicide. Legalising same-sex marriage will go a way towards lowering suicide rates in this group, as well as across the board.

Negative health impacts where same-sex marriage is banned

Young same-sex attracted people in particular already experience feelings of social discrimination, which could increase if same-sex marriage is not legalised. Same-sex-attracted young people are roughly twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, more than six times more likely to have thoughts of suicide, and five times more likely to make a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers.

These inequalities are exacerbated in jurisdictions that do not support same sex marriage and where discrimination is therefore institutionally endorsed.


Read more: Why do so many gay and bisexual men die from suicide?


For example, a US study found that psychiatric disorders such as mood and anxiety disorders, as well as problems with alcohol, increased significantly among same-sex-attracted people who lived in states that banned gay marriage during the 2004 and 2005 elections. There was no such increase among people living in states without such constitutional amendments, or among heterosexual people living in those same communities.

Another US study found that sexual minority people (whose sexual identity, orientation or practices differ from the majority) living in communities that were highly prejudiced against them showed substantially elevated rates of both physical and mental illness, as well suicide. It also showed the average age of suicide among sexual minority individuals was significantly younger in these “high-prejudice” communities when compared to other areas.

Health benefits where same-sex marriage is legalised

Such inequalities – between the mental health of homosexual and heterosexual people – do not necessarily exist when same-sex couples are afforded the same rights with regard to institutionally recognised marriage. This finding persists among middle-aged men and young people.

There are positive impacts on the mental health of same-sex attracted people in places where there is marriage equality.
from shutterstock.com

In Denmark same-sex married men experienced a
reduction in rates of premature death after the implementation of a registered partnerships law in 1989. Similarly, in the United States, implementation of same-sex marriage policies has been associated with a 7% relative reduction in the proportion of high school students attempting suicide. The association was strongest among sexual minority students.

Based on figures from the Second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing this would equate to almost 3,000 fewer suicide attempts made by Australian secondary school students per year. These benefits are not necessarily attributed to marriage per se, but rather the legal right to marry. They are also not restricted to mental health, but have also been reported in terms of financial factors, physical health and health care costs.

The likely effects of a ‘no campaign’

A small number of studies have also examined the impact of plebiscites and their associated “no campaigns” on the mental health and well-being of communities. These consistently report that exposure to repeated negative messaging about same-sex marriage creates a unique form of social stress resulting in poorer psychological outcomes.


Read more: Did the suicide rate decrease during Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage?


While the specific impact of these campaigns on suicide related outcomes remains unknown for the time being, the relationship between minority stress, mental illness and suicide is well established. It is therefore likely that risk will increase throughout this process. Indeed, mental health and crisis support services are already reporting an increase in the rate of contacts, an increase that has been attributed to the debate currently underway.

The Australian government has given a significant amount of attention and resource to the treatment of mental ill-health and prevention of suicide, including among young people, over recent years. Yet, the institutional inequalities and the already toxic debate currently underway (despite assurances on the part of government that any debate will be respectful) will undoubtedly increase the risk of both. This risk needs to be taken extremely seriously over the coming months.


If this article has raised issues for you or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 44.


The ConversationNote: The first sentence has been amended to reflect that Australia is not the “only” English speaking developed country to not yet recognise same-sex marriage.

Jo Robinson, Senior Research Fellow, Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne; Eleanor Bailey, Research Assistant, Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, and Pat McGorry, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Council of Grand Justices to rule on same-sex marriage in Taiwan on May 24 | Taiwan News

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)–Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices (大法官) will announce the ruling on a case concerning same-sex marriage on May 24, which experts said is expected to have deep ramifications on the development of same-sex marriage in Taiwan.

The case arose from gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei’s (祁家威) being turned down while applying for marriage registration with his male partner at the Household Registration Office in Wanhua District, Taipei City. An administrative lawsuit ensued, but the administrative court ruled against Chi.

Source: Taiwan News

“Merkel′s conservatives under pressure to allow gay marriage” | DW.COM

 

Marriage equality is legal in 22 countries, including Argentina, South Africa and the United States. Germany is not one of them. But now members of the junior governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) are pushing to change that. They are calling on their coalition partners, the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), to go along with a change of law that would grant same-sex couples the right to get married and not just obtain civil unions.

Thomas Oppermann, the head of the SPD in parliament, said he planned to put marriage equality on the agenda for the next coalition meeting of the SPD, CDU and CSU.

“Everyone’s talking about preserving our values these days. That shouldn’t just be a talking point in grant speeches, but rather a part of actual policies,” Oppermann told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel. “Among these values are not only the protection of marriage and family, but also equal rights for different kinds of relationships.”

Source: DW.COM 

Unionists could make pact to keep blocking equal marriage in Northern Ireland · PinkNews

Arlene Foster and Roy Beggs (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Just days after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party lost their veto power over same-sex marriage, another MLA has vowed to help them block it.

Assembly elections were held last week in Northern Ireland after the collapse of the previous government, with the anti-gay marriage DUP losing ground to Sinn Féin.

The DUP, which lost nearly all of its hefty majority, had previously used peace process powers known as ‘petitions of concern’ to block same-sex marriage.

Hopes of progress were raised over the weekend when the DUP won just 28 seats – two short of the 30 needed to pass a petition of concern by themselves.

However, it’s far from plain sailing, and unionists from two other parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and Traditional Unionist Voice, have vowed to prop up the DUP on the issue.

Source:  · PinkNews

Finland votes to legalise same-sex marriage once again

Finland has voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage… for a second time.

Despite voting in favour of marriage equality back in 2014, with 105 to 92 votes in support, the country’s parliament was forced to vote on the issue once again after a citizens’ petition called for a repeal of the incoming law.

The ‘Genuine Families’ petition, which demanded that marriage remains “a genuinely egalitarian union between man and women”, passed the 50,000 signature mark which is required for a parliamentary debate.

Unfortunately for same-sex marriage opponents, the petition failed to achieve its goal, as even more MPs came out in support of equality than in 2014.

120 members of parliament were opposed to a repeal of the marriage equality law, while just 48 supported it. Two members abstained and 29 people were absent.

Source: Gay Times

Greens see hope for gay marriage after Foster comments – BelfastTelegraph

The DUP’s changed position on Stormont’s petition of concern could finally lead the way for same sex marriage in Northern Ireland, it has been claimed.

Green Party leader in Northern Ireland Steven Agnew said DUP leader Arlene Foster’s claims that she would like to see the petition of concern scrapped has left him hopeful of a change in the law for marriage equality.

A petition of concern – a mechanism introduced as part of the Good Friday Agreement to help protect minority rights in the Northern Ireland Assembly – was used by them in 2015 to stop votes on same-sex marriage being passed.

A majority of MLA’s voted in favour of same-sex marriage, but the motion was blocked by the DUP when it deployed the petition.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage is not legal.

Source:BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Gay marriage to be introduced in Malta soon – timesofmalta.com

Gay marriage could soon be introduced in Malta as a Marriage Equality Bill is in the process of being drafted, Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli announced this afternoon.

Speaking during an event organised by the NGO Drachma, the minister said the Civil Union Law gave gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples under a different name. The government was now also “changing this”.

“You are not going to believe this but, just yesterday, I was revising a bill on marriage equality,” the minister said prompting a round of applause by those present.

“Our civil union law is already on a par with marriage. All the rights are there and it’s just different in name so we’re changing that. We’re working on it,” Dr Dalli said.

Same-sex unions were approved by Parliament in Malta on April 14, 2014. The Opposition had abstained.

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Source: – timesofmalta.com

Same-Sex Marriage Laws Linked To Powerful Drop In Teen Suicide Rate | The Huffington Post

Living in a community that recognizes gay marriage can improve the mental health of all teens, according to a new study.

State marriage equality laws enacted in the years before the 2015 Supreme Court ruling were linked to lower rates of suicide attempts among all high school students but especially among teens who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure. Ultimately, the researchers found, for every year that same-sex marriage laws were in place, 134,000 fewer teens attempted suicide. 

This is noteworthy because queer teens are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.

While the study doesn’t demonstrate that these laws actually caused a reduction in suicide attempts, lead study author Julia Raifman theorized that having equal protection under the law may account for much of the change.