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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Sexual Health -

Gay marriage may be good for health: study

Sexual HealthFeb 14, 06

Same sex civil unions could be good for gay couples’ mental and physical health, just as traditional marriage has been shown to lead to better health and longer lives for heterosexual couples, UK researchers contend.

Eleven European nations, Britain, Australia, Canada and several US states have now made gay marriage legal, Dr. Michael King of University College London and Dr. Annie Bartlett of St. George’s Hospital Medical School in London point out in their review in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

There is considerable evidence that married people live longer and are healthier both mentally and physically, King and Bartlett write, largely because of the social support and stability matrimony offers. The emotional and practical support of being part of a legally recognized couple—as well as greater acceptance by family and society conferred by the legal bond—would likely benefit members of civil unions as well, they say.

Gay men and lesbians are known to have unique health problems, the authors add, including higher rates of substance abuse, anxiety and depression. Legalizing gay marriage could reduce discrimination against homosexual individuals that could cause or aggravate such psychological problems, King and Bartlett argue.

Careful research will need to be done in order to identify whether civil marriages do indeed lead to better health, the authors say. There already is some evidence that stable same-sex relationships do have health and social benefits. For example, a study found that couples in civil unions had closer ties with their families of origin and were more open about their sexual orientation. Another study found that progression to AIDS is slower among HIV-infected patients who are in stable sexual relationships that have lasted at least six months.

“Although we recognize that marriage is by no means a panacea for health issues, legal recognition of civil partnerships seems likely to go some way to stabilize same sex relationships, create a focus for celebration with families and friends, and provide vital protection at time of dissolution,” the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, March 2006.

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