Family First NZ in its submission to the Government Administration Committee on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Bill highlighted the misrepresentation of research on teen suicide rates by openly “gay” man Green MP Kevin Hague, a member of the committee, and by the sponsor of the bill “openly lesbian” Labour List MP Louisa Wall, in order to “advance” their “agenda” (same-sex ‘marriage’). Neither MP nor any other supporter of the bill has responded to the allegations of misrepresentation.
Both MPs have indicated publicly that they are not really interested in getting married to their respective same-sex partners, should the bill pass into law. Their personal disinterest in ‘marriage’, lack of supporting evidence provided, and the legally flawed nature of the bill they are pushing for, has led many opponents to question their claims that legalizing “gay” ‘marriage’ in New Zealand would actually reduce youth suicide rates among the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ) community.
The bills supporters have provided no scientific evidence whatsoever for their claims concerning teen suicide rate reductions from any peer-reviewed research publications, and yet a number of MPs now supporting the bill have been persuaded by such spurious claims, including National MP – Dr Paul Hutchison, who represents the Hunua electorate. One wonders why he has failed to present the hard evidence to the country in his speeches on the bill, rather than apparently relying on anecdotal hearsay from Louisa Wall.
The Family First submission stated:
MISREPRESENTING RESEARCH ON TEEN SUICIDE
We note comments made by politicians and supporters of the bill relating to teen suicide.[i]They have referred to research done by the New Zealand Adolescent Health Research group, and they suggest that the disproportionately high rates of suicide attempts by same-sex attracted teens is due in part to the current definition of marriage.
But significantly, the report says:
“It is apparent that further investigation of potential differences according to sexual attraction is warranted and that studies in the area of human sexuality require some understanding of a range of inter-related concepts, with the issues of definition and description holding particular importance.” (page 5)
And in a comparison of rates between 2001 and 2007, the report says:
“There were no major changes observed between the two surveys (2001 and 2007) in the proportions of same/both-sex-attracted students reporting depressive symptoms or suicide attempts, even though there were substantial reductions in suicide attempts among opposite sex- attracted students over that time.” (page 21)
This is significant because during this period of time, major changes were made to legislation regarding same-sex couples including the Civil Union Act and the Relationships Act. If the assertions were correct, there should have been a drop in these rates.
Massachusetts has been tracking gay high school students for a decade using the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behaviour Survey. In 2001, gay teens in Massachusetts were almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide (31% vs. 8%). In 2007 — after four years of legalised same-sex marriage in that state — gay teens were still about four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-gay teens (29% vs. 6%).[ii]
What politicians and supporters also didn’t mention was one of the conclusions from the Fergusson, Horwood & Beautrais 1999 study (quoted in the Youth ’07 report) –
“it has been argued that because of a series of social processes that centre on homophobic attitudes, GLB youth are exposed to serious personal stresses that increase their likelihood of suicidal behaviour. However, a reappraisal of these claims showed them not to be well founded in evidence, and reviews of this issue concluded that problems in existing research were such that no clear conclusions about the role of sexual orientation in suicidal behaviour could be drawn.”[iii]
Teen suicide is always a tragedy. But tragedies should not be manipulated in order to advance an agenda.
The attempts to argue that if we allow same-sex marriage, same-sex attracted teens will be less likely to have disproportionately high rates of alcohol and other drug-abuse problems, depression, other mental health problems, self-harm, unsafe sexual behaviour, including HIV risk, and suicide attempts are not supported by research, and are therefore not relevant to this particular debate