Latest News 2017 September Gay Marriage Bans Could Have Serious Effect on Mental Health

Gay Marriage Bans Could Have Serious Effect on Mental Health

In a report released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association, it was revealed that 72 nations worldwide still prosecute their citizens for homosexuality. Of these 72, 1 in 6 of them allow for or outright apply the death penalty to homosexuals who have been discovered and charged.

It might be easy to look at these 72 nations as the only places where LGBT residents are at risk for tangible persecution and harm from the government. It might be easy to look at them as backward, framing the rest of the world is more "progressive," "tolerant," or open to their LGBT citizens. At the very least, the rest of the world is (on paper) better for the health and safety of gay and trans people.

A recent study may prove that's not as much the case as we thought.

Research indicates that in countries where gay marriage is banned, LGBT populations may suffer from higher rates of emotional instability—even where the culture is more "tolerant." Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist, has discovered that the health of LGBT people seems to be markedly affected by whether the region recognized gay marriage.

In U.S. states that banned gay marriage, Hatzenbuehler noted among the gay population:

  • 37% increase in mood disorders
  • 42% increase in alcohol-use disorder
  • 248% increase in anxiety disorders

It's worth noting that the Supreme Court only forced the states to recognize gay marriage in 2015. Not exactly ancient history. It's also worth understanding that these numbers don't just apply to LGBT people who wanted to get married—it applied to the entire community. Governments make a clear statement when they don't recognize or legitimize the relationships between LGBT couples. And that statement is quantifiably harmful to ourselves, our friends, our family, and our neighbors.

As of this writing, only 24 nations worldwide have recognized gay marriage; 172 countries haven't recognized marriages between LGBT citizens—including the 72 nations that don't allow individuals to be openly gay without legal prosecution.

Given the stakes in these countries, legalizing gay marriage may seem like a secondary issue—and there, it is. Survival is job number one in nations where homosexuals can still be executed for their sexual orientation. We can be thankful that American gay rights advocates throughout the 20th century have made it possible for LGBT people to become immune from legal prosecution for being who they are. However, despite increased protections (and the legalization of gay marriage), America still has a long way to go. The whole world does.

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