LGB people living in states where it’s legal to deny services to same-sex couples may have an increased risk of mental illness even when they don’t personally experience discrimination, a U.S. study suggests. Reuters reported the findings.
Direct exposure to discrimination based on sexual orientation, race and a range of other factors has long been linked to higher risk of psychological distress. But less is known about the impact of state laws that let providers of goods and services — whether they’re clerks issuing marriage licenses or doctors or lawyers or bakers — turn away same-sex couples.
To examine this question, researchers looked at nationally representative survey data collected from 2014-2016. Results were published May 23 in JAMA Psychiatry.
They analyzed data from 37,514 adults in three states — Utah, Michigan and North Carolina — that passed laws permitting services to be denied to same-sex couples in 2015. They also had data from 71,575 individuals in six states without these laws: Idaho, Nevada, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and Delaware, Reuters reports.
Researchers defined mental distress as experiencing depression, anxiety and other emotional problems on 14 or more days per month.
In states that passed denial of service laws in 2015, the proportion of sexual minorities reporting mental distress rose from 22 percent in 2014 to about 33 percent in 2016. Where no such laws existed, the proportion of LGB adults reporting psychological problems rose only about 1 percentage point during that period, Reuters reports.