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Saturday 11 April 2015

The “M” word

Posted in: Safe Sex, Features, Health & HIV
By Daily News staff - 1st September 2012

Dr Peter Saxton from the AIDS Epidemiology group has responded to an opinion piece from a religious history lecturer, who has cited the group’s research in his piece “Fidelity in marriage an issue for gay men”, to argue against gay men being allowed to marry their partners.

Laurie Guy
“What of gay commitment and faithfulness? Long-term lesbian relationships on average may well be as committed and faithful as that of an average married heterosexual couple. The problem is the gay men,” Laurie Guy writes in a piece in the New Zealand Herald.

He then uses the Auckland Gay Periodic Sex Survey’s 2010 results to point out that 52 per cent of those in partnerships had also had sex with other partners in the past six months.

“So despite the rhetoric of love and commitment, most male gay couples are not in a genuinely monogamous relationship. Should the meaning of "marriage" be broadened under such circumstances?” he says.

Guy adds “male-to-male coupling” has far greater health risks and asks “Can we affirm male gay relationships to the level of ‘marriage’ given the data on faithfulness and health? One can argue change on the basis of ‘me’, ‘my rights’ and ‘choice’. But the debate is also about the good of society.”

He says society needs stable, faithful, healthy relationships. “Stable marriage has gravely weakened in the last generation. There is deep hurt and scarring of many, especially children, as a consequence,” he says.

Peter Saxton has responded in a letter published in the New Zealand Herald, which we share here:

Dr Peter Saxton
“In his opinion piece “Fidelity in marriage an issue for gay men”, religious studies lecturer Laurie Guy cited research conducted by our Group to argue that all gay men should be prohibited from legally marrying their same sex partner.

“He based this reasoning on our data which show that some gay men are not monogamous, and that gay men are at greater risk of HIV infection.

“Although we believe these arguments are spurious, we feel obliged to correct him on two points. First, our research is designed to extract honest, open information on socially stigmatised sexual behaviours among a wide variety of gay men that can help improve HIV prevention in New Zealand. As it was not conducted only among gay men who might wish to marry, it cannot be inferred that gay men who do will not be monogamous.

“Second, in contrast to his implication that all gay men are somehow sexually reckless, our data in fact show most gay men exhibit protective behaviours in response to HIV transmission. For example, condom use with casual or regular male partners is higher than what we would expect to find among heterosexual partners, should a comparable study be conducted here.” Daily News staff - 1st September 2012

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