A leading human rights expert has criticised the opinion expressed by a group of Victorian doctors that children of heterosexual couples do better in all measures than children of same-sex couples.
Associate Professor Paula Gerber, Deputy Director of Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law said the opinion of 22 Victorian doctors contained in a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs by a group called Doctors for the Family was not based on any credible research.
Referring to the submission, Associate Professor Gerber, who is also a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission board member, said the children of same-sex couples are not affected negatively by their parents’ relationships.
“Adolescents living with homosexual parents function as well as, or sometimes better than, those reared by opposite-sex partners, according to an overwhelming number of rigorous academic studies,” Associate Professor Gerber said.
“This evidence includes the highly regarded National Lesbian Longitudinal Family Study, empirical research by the American Psychological Associate and a study published in the prestigious American journal Pediatrics, among others.”
Associate Professor Gerber said a peer-reviewed paper published in Pediatrics found that children who are raised by married parents, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, benefit from the legal and social status granted to their parents.
“Opposition to marriage equality has the potential to harm children being raised by loving same-sex couples, because it sends a message that their families are inferior to other families,” Associate Professor Gerber said.
“Evidence shows that gay and lesbian parents tend to be more responsive to their children, more child-oriented and more egalitarian in their sharing of the workload. These characteristics are all associated with a more positive child outcome.”
Associate Professor Gerber said she was disappointed and surprised at the statement by Doctors for the Family that same-sex marriage would normalise homosexuality and have negative health impacts through an increase in HIV and syphilis.
“I had thought that our society was beyond demonising homosexuality as something other than normal, it is disheartening to hear such views being expressed by members of the medical profession,” Associate Professor Gerber said.
“While everyone is entitled to hold and express their opinions on same-sex marriage, it is preferable that those opinions be grounded in scholarly evidenced-based research, rather than prejudices and misconceptions.”
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