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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 00:20 GMT
Gay marriage 'is good for health'
David Furnish and Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John's is the highest-profile civil partnership so far
Gay "marriage" could boost the mental and physical health of homosexuals, doctors believe.

Rates of depression, drug abuse and cancer are higher in the gay community than among heterosexual people.

The report said civil partnerships, which were introduced in England and Wales in December, were likely to reduce prejudice and social exclusion.

The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health article was based on previous studies in other countries.

Denmark was the first country to introduce civil partnerships for same sex couples in 1989, since when several European Union countries, some US states, Australia and Canada have followed suit.

I think having civil partnerships is going to mean a lot more security, financially, without the need to seek legal recourse, which in turn means less stress and that will be beneficial
Andy Forrest, of Stonewall

Professor Michael King, of University College London, who co-wrote the article, said: "Civil partnerships are likely to break down some of the prejudice and promote greater understanding, including among staff working in the health service.

"Legal civil partnerships could increase the stability of same sex relationships and minimise the social exclusion to which gay and lesbian people are often subjected."

Research has shown that lesbians have higher risk of breast cancer, heart disease and obesity, while gay men have a higher risk of HIV, the article said.

Gay people are also more likely to suffer from depression, drug abuse and suicidal urges than heterosexual people.

Stable

And the report said studies had shown those who are in a stable relationship, of either the same or opposite sex, enjoyed some health benefits.

It cited Swiss research which showed patients with HIV in stable partnerships were more likely to progress more slowly to Aids.

And other studies have revealed that married same sex couples had greater openness about their sexual orientation and closer relationships with their relatives than same sex couples not in civil partnerships.

But the doctors in the latest study added further research was needed to prove the theory.

Andy Forrest, of Stonewall gay rights campaign group, said the report was "logical" but it would be too early to see if such an impact emerged in England and Wales.

"I think having civil partnerships is going to mean a lot more security, financially, without the need to seek legal recourse, which in turn means less stress and that will be beneficial.

"There is also the issue of prejudice and hassle that people can encounter in their every day lives, with the rights these partnerships have this will be reduced."




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