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Legalising same-sex marriages made even the unwed happy

·1 min read
<span>Photograph: Michael Kooren/REUTERS</span>
Photograph: Michael Kooren/REUTERS

Most people getting married think it’ll make them happy. At least I hope they do – it’s not worth it for the ring or the £5-a-week embarrassment of the marriage allowance.

Luckily, even if not everyone getting hitched reaches cloud nine, we have proof that changing who is allowed to get married does boost wellbeing. That’s the conclusion of research on the 2001 Dutch decision to legalise same-sex marriage. By linking data about people’s sexuality with a health survey, researchers are able to show that before 2001 there was a big mental health gap by sexuality: people in same-sex relationships had markedly higher levels of depression and anxiety than people in non-same-sex relationships.

Since 2001, those rates have fallen and largely converged with heterosexuals. This is another great argument for same-sex marriage legislation. It was good news for those who wanted to get married but improved mental health was also experienced by the unmarried, because institutional discrimination isn’t good for anyone.

So amid all the talk of culture wars, let’s celebrate how far we’ve travelled towards the light in some areas. In 1981, almost half of Britons thought that homosexuality was never justified. By 2008, that had more than halved and attitudes have continued changing fast since. If that doesn’t make everyone, except the bigots, happy I don’t know what does.

• Torsten Bell is chief executive of the Resolution Foundation. Read more at resolutionfoundation.org

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