Marriage equality will positively impact the mental health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, says the Mental Health Foundation (MHF). The MHF has entered a submission to the Government Administration Committee supporting the proposed Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.
"Sexual and gender minorities experience significantly poorer mental health than other New Zealanders," says MHF Chief Executive Judi Clements.
Discrimination is a key determinant of sexual and gender minorities’ mental health and wellbeing. Sexual and gender minorities in New Zealand experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidality than other New Zealanders, and this is of great concern.
"Discriminatory laws imply that these individuals’ identities are not acceptable, and that they thus deserve fewer rights," says Ms Clements. "The poor mental health outcomes we have been seeing in our Rainbow communities may improve with increased social and legal acceptance of, and value toward, their relationships."
Research in California has shown that gay men who are legally married are less likely than other gay men to be depressed and more likely to flourish - that is to feel relaxed, calm, peaceful, and hopeful for the future. The same benefits were not observed in gay men in domestic partnerships.
It is the goal of the MHF to help all New Zealanders to flourish; in the current conditions of legally-sanctioned discrimination toward same-sex couples a significant population of New Zealanders are unable to do so.
This bill will be another step in respecting and valuing all people in our society, and fostering equal citizenship for sexual and gender minorities.
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