Children from same-sex parents are happier and healthier than average, researchers have found.

Findings showed that children with gay parents were 6% above the general population in terms of health and wellbeing.

Published in the journal BMC Public Health, scientists at the University of Melbourne used data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families – the largest study of its kind.

Researchers analysed information from 500 children from 315 same sex parents. The majority (80%) had female parents.

The scientists found that children were equivalent to their heterosexual parent counterparts in terms of behaviour, mental health, temperament, mood and self-esteem, but scored higher on wellbeing and health.

Lead researcher Simon Crouch said: "These children are growing up in a range of family contexts formed in a range of ways; from previous heterosexual relationships, to assisted reproductive technologies and same sex co-parenting arrangements."

"It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health.

"We know that same-sex attracted parents are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities more equitably than heterosexual parent families, based more on skills rather than gender roles. This appears to be contributing to a more harmonious household and having a positive impact on child health."

However, findings also showed that there was still a great deal of stigma attached to same sex parents, with two thirds of children from gay parents experiencing some form of discrimination.

"Stigma can be subtle, such as letters home from school addressed to Mr and Mrs," Crouch said. "Or it can be overt and very harmful, in the form of bullying and abuse at school. What we have found is that the more stigma these families experience the greater the impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of children."

Crouch said the findings should encourage politicians – especially in Australia – to embrace same sex marriage and adoption as a child does not require a mother and father to do well.

"This study shows that children can thrive in a range of family contexts and the ways that these families are constructed can bring their own particular benefits to child health and wellbeing."