Australia: Discrimination, not same-sex parents, harms children: report

Children raised in same-sex families develop as their peers in families with heterosexual parents do, a group of senior pediatricians and adolescent health experts says.

And the group has called on the medical community to debunk "damaging misrepresentations" of the evidence being used by the "no" campaign in the postal vote on same-sex marriage, saying the real public health risk comes from discrimination. 

The 13 specialists, who include Professor Frank Oberklaid from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, and Associate Professor Michelle Telfer, from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, write in the Medical Journal of Australia: "The research tells us that children and adolescents with same-sex parents are doing well, despite the discrimination their families endure. This will not continue for long in the face of hostile debate. 

"When damaging misrepresentations of the evidence circulate unchecked, the potential for stigmatising rhetoric to generate greater harm to this community increases." 

Public statements should be based on accurate, objective interpretations of the best available evidence, and the correction of inaccurate information, the group says.

Its review looks at at least three international, and one Australian, studies that have analysed the findings of dozens of pieces of research on the wellbeing of same-sex families.   

The consensus internationally is that children with same-sex parents do just as well as children raised by heterosexual couples. And it's the family "processes" – the quality of parenting, parental wellbeing and the quality of relationships – rather than a family's structure that makes a meaningful difference to children's wellbeing, the research shows.  Read more via the Age