Psychologists call for marriage equality 

19 August 2015

Psychologists are committed via their Code of Ethics to the principle that all Australians should be supported to achieve positive mental health and full social inclusion. The APS therefore supports full marriage equality for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, on human rights, health and wellbeing grounds.

Psychological research provides no evidence that would justify legal discrimination against same-sex partners and their families, but there is ample evidence that such discrimination contributes significantly to the risk of mental ill-health among gay, lesbian, bisexual and sex and/or gender diverse people, especially young people.

In August 2011, the American Psychological Association (APA) unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, on the basis of clear evidence showing the mental health benefits of marriage, and the harm caused by social exclusion and discrimination arising from not having the choice to marry. More information on the APA resolution and the psychological research that underpins it is available on the APA website:

  1. APA calls for marriage equality
  2. Background: Marriage equality and LGBTI mental health
  3. Psychology’s case for same-sex marriage 

In December 2011, the APS Board endorsed this APA resolution on health and wellbeing grounds. In taking this decision the APS took into account the importance of addressing the flow-on effect of marriage discrimination of same-sex attracted Australians, their loved ones and the wider community. 

The removal of homosexuality from the DSM 111 in 1973, the decriminalising of homosexuality in all states, the introduction of partnerships bills, anti-homophobia policies in schools and increased acceptance of homosexuality have all been important in young people feeling that they have a future in our society. But while they remain legally locked out of the institution of marriage and the official approval it bestows on relationships, they remain outsiders.  Today the message from young people is that children, family and marriage are all incredibly important to them. They see them in their futures and they will not be denied the opportunities.  Anything less amounts to discrimination.

In 2008, the APS commissioned a review of research on the wellbeing of lesbian and gay-parented families, and concluded that the most important family factors for children’s well-being are family processes and the quality of interactions and relationships, not family structures (like having a mother and a father). The research indicates that parenting practices and children’s outcomes in families parented by lesbian and gay parents are likely to be no less favourable than those in families of heterosexual parents, despite the reality that considerable social and legal discrimination remain significant challenges for these families. Laws that discriminate against same-sex parented families don’t stop people having children – they just make people’s lives more difficult and contribute to a social climate of intolerance and inequity. If one believes that having married parents is good for children, then that is an argument in favour of marriage equality, not against it.

The APS welcomes the prospect of marriage equality for the significant benefits it will bring to society and to many Australians.

Link to APS resources on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues

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Notes to editors:

For more information, or to arrange an interview call Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358 or 0435 896 444, or email media@psychology.org.au.  Find the APS Media team on Twitter:  @APS_Media

The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 21,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.