Do Rights for Gays and Lesbians Affect Life Satisfaction of the General Population?
In a study published by the Journal of Happiness Studies, Niclas Berggren, Christian Bjørnskov and Therese Nilsson investigated the role played by laws that treat everyone equally, irrespective of sexual orientation, on people’s general life satisfaction. The authors looked at three measures of rights for gays and lesbians: (absence of) persecution (concerning the legality of same-sex relations), recognition (concerning marriage, adoption and age of consent) and protection (concerning inclusion of sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws) in a broad set of countries.
Their results showed that reforms related to same-sex marriage have no ‘‘welfare’’ cost to society at large. This holds true only in the case of recognition, i.e. the degree to which equal marriage, adoption rights and an equal age of consent are granted. The other two indicators analysed were found to not be statistically signiﬁcant. These results are highly relevant for political decision-makers: For high general life satisfaction, it seems to follow that equal rights for gays and lesbians should be introduced and kept.