Australia’s leading psychiatric organisation says it supports same-sex parenting and is looking at whether to endorse same-sex marriage.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), which represents 85 percent of all practising psychiatrists in Australia, made the statement after the American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted to support same-sex marriage this week.

The influential US group said it endorsed same-sex marriage in the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health, and cited the positive influence of a stable, adult partnership on the health of all family members, the Associated Press reported.

A final vote on the issue will be carried out by the APA’s directors in July.

A spokesperson for RANZCP, Dr Louise Newman, told the Star the college was yet to have a formal position on same-sex marriage but it was currently having discussions about both the human rights aspects involved and also the issue for children.

Newman agreed marriage was good for the mental health of adults and children because of the stability and security such unions can create.

And child development is greatly enhanced if children are involved in a stable relationship, she said, and it makes no difference whether the parents are straight or gay.

Several of our members have been involved in looking at the evidence of children in gay and lesbian relationships and I think it’s very clear that clinicians and professionals would not accept any argument that it causes damage to children, she said. Dr Newman is head of child and adolescent psychiatry at the college.

Our position is very clear that parenting can be done by anyone regardless of gender, relationship or sexuality. The issue is much more about an individual’s desire to have children and their parenting capacity.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, a decision which saw the beginning of an international shift in attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

An official endorsement of gay marriage could have a similar groundbreaking effect.

American LGBT lobby group Human Rights Campaign welcomed the APA’s latest announcement, saying, The nation’s leading health experts agree that the right to marry is good for all families.

In 2002 the American Academy of Pediatrics said, Children deserve to know that their relationships with both of their parents are stable and legally recognised. This applies to all children, whether their parents are of the same or opposite sex.

And in a July 2004 statement, the American Psychological Association said it believes it is unfair and discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage and to all its attendant benefits, rights and privileges.

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