Bans on same-sex marriage are making gays and lesbians sick — literally.

Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have found gay and lesbian constituents living in American states where marriage is banned are up to four times more likely to suffer anxiety disorders.

In these states, gay and lesbian people were also more likely to suffer generalised mood disorders and substance abuse problems.

“The study highlights the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and wellbeing of LGB individuals,” the study’s senior author Dr Deborah Hasin said.

“To address the impact of institutional discrimination on mental health, we examined whether LGB individuals living in states that instituted constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, via the 2004-05 elections, evidenced increased rates of psychiatric disorder.”

The study, published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health, found LGB citizens not living in one of the 14 American states to have legalised marriage to be faring worse than their counterparts in other, more liberal, states, and showed much poorer mental and physical health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts.

In Australia, the discrepancy between heterosexual and same-sex-attracted health outcomes has been well documented, with gay men and lesbians being up to three times more likely to suffer mental health problems and drug dependencies.

In their submission to the Senate marriage inquiry, ACON directly pointed to the correlation between equality and health, as they urged the Government to legislate for same-sex marriage.

“The discriminatory and exclusionary nature of the current definition of marriage is a serious concern to ACON and our community,” its submission read.

“Social exclusion as opposed to social inclusion and discrimination as opposed to equality are two social factors that negatively impact on health.

“The continuation of unequal laws says to people that our government considers GLBT Australians to be of lesser value than other citizens and not worthy of the same rights.

“The way that is then interpreted by some is, ‘If it is alright for the government to discriminate then it must be alright for me to do the same’.

“It leads to high rates of discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services. Sadly we also know it translates in harassment, abuse and violence.”

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