The select committee considering the New Zealand equal marriage bill has heard from two charities which gave the benefits of legalising equal marriage for the physical and mental health of the population, in their submissions.

The potential physical and mental benefits of equal marriage were discussed at the New Zealand parliament by the select committee considering the bill to legalise it.

Submissions by Women’s Health Action and the Mental Health Foundation were heard by the committee in Auckland on MP Louisa Wall’s equal marriage bill.

Speaking for Women’s Health Action was Sandy Hall, who described that a significant number of the lesbian population had been threatened with violence, or had been physically or verbally abused.

She said that not allowing the bill to go through, and refusing equal marriage to become legal would send a message that it’s okay to discriminate.

The Mental Health Foundation also described how young, gay New Zealanders were five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, and legalising equal marriage would benefit the gay population by giving them role models to look up to, reports Yahoo.

On Monday, a New Zealand charity, the leader of which made a submission to parliament attempting to link equal marriage with rising crime rates, released a statement distancing itself from his comments.

Garth McVicar, the head of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, made a submission to the select committee considering equal marriage, suggesting that the act of legalising same-sex marriage would break down the basic morals of society, and would bring more harm than good.

The New Zealand Marriage Amendment Bill, which would legalise equal marriage, passed its first reading on 22 August, with a majority of 80 votes to 40 in parliament in support of the change.

A select committee is now reviewing the bill, which would normally be over a period of around six months. After that process, it will make a decision on whether or not to recommend it be passed.

Last week, the head of an evangelical church in Auckland was discovered attempting to rig a cabinet minister’s poll on a pending equal marriage bill.