Given the reprehensible behavior of Prime-Minister-For-Life John Howard who has fostered a climate of division and discrimination, nothing that follows is a surprise.
Several media outlets are reporting on a study coming out of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University on Depression among Australian Gays and Lesbians. Anyone care to guess what the study tells us? From The Sydney Morning Herald:
Homophobia is alive and well in Australia and linked to startling levels of depression among gays and lesbians, according to a study to be released today.
Does anyone want to bet on how quickly a religious or conservative group takes this data and spins that depression is caused by being gay or lesbian and is part of its alleged "pathology" rather than the effect of society's treatment of gays and lesbians?
Talk about a sucker bet.
The scale of the study is impressive; it is being touted as one of the largest studies of its kind:
The study canvassed 5500 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Almost three-quarters reported past depression and nearly half reported at least one sign of a major depressive episode.
Suicidal thoughts were found to be higher than among heterosexuals - about 16 per cent in gay men compared with 10 per cent of heterosexual men.
"All of the smaller studies have indicated high rates of depression," said Anne Mitchell, director of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and one of the study's authors. "But this was higher than we suspected. We went back to check the data twice to make sure we didn't make a mistake -- it was so striking."
Mitchell said depression is much less significant in older homosexuals, presumably because as they age they find people they feel comfortable with and supportive relationships.
I'm looking forward to reviewing the study itself, but the site is not live and it does not seem to have been released yet. I'm just a little suspicious about the timing of the release, but I will wait for the report to appear before I comment on the data.
To gays and lesbians living in nominally free but hostile societies like Australia and the United States, the only surprise in these findings is that they are not higher. In both countries the rights of gays and lesbians and their families have been used as wedge issues for partisan political purposes. The natural side effects of this use are rises in discrimination and hate crimes.
“Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson