6 June 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby has urged caution regarding interim findings from a study into children of same-sex families which showed positive outcomes.

Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the interim one-page report by the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families (ACHESS) only questioned the parents.

“Really this report is about the experience of same-sex parents and not the children themselves,” he said.

“By only questioning the parents we don’t hear from children. Will the parents’ feedback be reflected in children’s own experiences when they become adults in the decades to come?

“Even if we ignore this fact, there are still questions regarding the length of the relationships that are being examined and the long-term impact on children. Will these reported positive results on general health and family cohesion be the same in 5, 10 and 20 years time?

“The study also ignores the ethical questions raised by creating children through donor conception and surrogacy.

“Surely we need more research on removing a child from his or her biological parent before any conclusions about same-sex parenting can be drawn,” he said.

Mr Shelton said it is well known that research showed the detrimental effects on children of an absent dad or an absent mum and it was not known whether same-sex parents could meet the needs of children in the way their biological parents could.

“There are genuine questions we should be asking ourselves as a society when law changes have only recently allowed donor conception practices in surrogacy and IVF for single women in some states,” he said.

Mr Shelton said the full results, due in September, would have to be considered in light of the fact that the study hasn’t surveyed married heterosexual parents.

A Louisiana State University analysis of 59 parenting studies, used by the American Psychological Association to claim that no study has found any difference between children of same-sex parents and those of heterosexual parents, called into question the validity of this claim.

The author of the study released in June last year, Loren Marks, said “not one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief...compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children.”

Mr Shelton said it was important research into the experience of children of same-sex families was done in light of these concerns.