Study lead author Emily Bariola said the results add weight to the growing swell of community support for legalising same sex marriage in Australia.
‘These findings are significant. They suggest that providing same-sex couples with the chance to formalise their relationship is both a civil rights AND a public health issue.’
More than 1,000 men and women in same-sex relationships were surveyed across the country for the report and asked about their well-being and its link to formal recognition of their partnership.
The couples who had formalised their relationships in socially validating ways, such as marriage, commitment ceremonies, and registered domestic relationships had significantly better mental health than those who hadn’t – especially younger people.
Those who hadn’t formalised their relationship but wanted to were more likely to be psychologically distressed, especially older people.
Ms Bariola said the findings are supported by further evidence overseas that same-sex marriage is linked with better health.
‘We know that rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse are far higher among same–sex attracted individuals than heterosexuals. Banning same-sex marriage is a form of social exclusion and adds another layer of stress and marginalisation for this group.’
- Of those surveyed 86% had not formalised their current relationship
- 45% reported they wanted to or intended to
- The mental health benefit of relationship formalisation best among 16-39 year olds
Co-author Dr Anthony Lyons says, ‘Research over several decades shows health benefits of marriage for heterosexual couples. Our research shows that this may also be true for same-sex couples, making marriage equality an important health issue.’
The findings are published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health and authored by Emily Bariola, Anthony Lyons, and William Leonard.
Media; Catherine Garrett 9479 6565, 0418 964 325