Young gay men have made submissions to the New Zealand select committee dealing with the equal marriage bill, to say that legalising equal marriage would reduce the number of youth suicides.

Three men made an impassioned submission to the select committee yesterday, and discussed the issues around growing up gay.

The select committee received several submissions saying that a disproportionately high number of gay teenagers committed suicide.

A lawyer, Georgina Rood, cited a study which showed that around one in five gay, lesbian or bisexual teenagers had attempted to commit suicide.

Another submission from Richard Lee, said that growing up gay in New Zealand was difficult, and said that as a gay teenager, he and many others felt ”one step away from paedophilia and incest”.

”If people are growing up know this then those barriers are removed … that will make a huge difference,” he said.

Another submission from a gay man said he had not come out to his father because he didn’t “want to break his heart”, but that he was outgoing and confident in other aspects of his life.

He went on to say that legalising equal marriage would make it easier for young gay people to feel more comfortable, and to come out to their parents, reported Stuff. 

A long-time gay rights activist, and counsellor, Bill Logan, had said that he often spoke to gay teenagers who were considered suicide. He said many parents had tried to make their children “get over their gayness”.

”The denial of equal rights lie in the background here, as parents are encouraged to see non-heterosexual as properly excluded from the normal institutions of society,” he said.

Recently the committee 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.

Prior to that, 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, and the committee had received over 20,000 submissions. After that process, it will make a decision on whether or not to recommend it be passed.