Australian marriage equality advocates and mental health experts have welcomed a unanimous vote of support for allowing same-sex marriages from the American Psychological Association (APA).

The APA released a statement today citing research that shows marriage equality benefits same-sex partners and their families, while denying legal equality damages their mental health.

APA’s policymaking body unanimously approved a resolution for marriage equality 157-0 a day prior to the group’s annual convention.

“The importance of the APA’s statement is that it is based on research into the effects of marriage equality in the US and Europe where equality has clearly been beneficial and where discrimination has been shown to be harmful,” Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Peter Furness said.

“The science underlying the APA’s statement applies equally to Australia where legal discrimination against same-sex couples and their families also has a negative impact.”

The APA statement also has the backing of Brisbane-based psychologist, Paul Martin, whose practice specialises in counselling same-sex attracted people.

“A growing body of research confirms that mental health issues are directly related to discrimination. The same-sex attracted young people I see at my practice are particularly sensitive to messages that their relationships are not equal to other relationships.”

The APA has more than 154,000 members and has long supported full equal rights for the LGBTI community, based on social science research on sexual orientation.

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