In The South

Calls grow for UN to address the health and well-being of LGBT+ People

Besi Besemar July 6, 2017

United Nations must address the health and well-being of LGBT+ People.

A new report released today by the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) and OutRight Action International, in collaboration with the Global Platform to Fast Track the Human Rights and HIV Responses with Gay and Bisexual Men – argues for a global health and development approach that is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Released ahead of this year’s United Nations (UN) High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, the paper calls on countries to recognise and address the impact of stigma, discrimination, violence, and criminalisation on health.

In its second year, the High-Level Political Forum is where member states meet to review progress towards Agenda 2030 – economic, social, and environmental sustainable development, founded on the principle of “leave no one behind.”

Among the goals to be reviewed this year is Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” which is particularly relevant to LGBT+ people. The HLPF will take place at UN headquarters in New York from July 10-19.

While data regarding LGBT+ health needs are inadequate and incomplete across the globe, the data that is available demonstrate that the health of LGBT+ people is consistently poorer than the general population.

The report highlights:

♦      The disproportionate affect HIV is having on gay and bisexual men and transwomen.

♦      A higher burden of poor mental health among LGBTI people compared to the general population.

♦      A lack of targeted and responsive sexual health information for LGBTI people, which limits their ability to protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted infections, particularly as young adults.

♦      The impact of intersecting forms of discrimination faced by LGBTI people based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, ability, class, migration status, and other factors that drive exclusion.

♦      The role that criminalisation, anti-LGBTI violence, fear of discrimination, cost, and lack of social support play in impeding access to health services.

MSMGF Executive Director, Dr. George Ayala, said: “Disproportionate rates of depression, anxiety, homelessness, problem substance use, and suicide among LGBTI people can each be traced back to the stigma, discrimination, and violence they face worldwide. Connection to community, safety, and security offset the devastating effects of social exclusion.”

The report finds that lesbian and bisexual women, transgender people, and intersex people in particular remain ignored and underserved in healthcare systems across the world.

Dr. Felicity Daly
Dr. Felicity Daly

OutRight Action International’s Global Research Coordinator, Dr. Felicity Daly, added: “LGBTI people are well-aware of the health disparities taking hold and stealing lives in their communities, but are being excluded from data collection efforts. As a result, LGBTI communities are rendered invisible and therefore unable to make a convincing case for health financing to address their needs.”

The report offers tangible and accessible recommendations on data and indicators governments can and should collect to monitor LGBT+ health needs, including:

♦      Specific recommendations for including LGBTI health and well-being in the agreed upon SDG 3 indicators.

♦      Disaggregating complete and accurate data by sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, in order to allow for the formation of evidence-based laws and policies that serve to promote and protect LGBTI people’s right to health.

♦      Ensuring funding for community-based and LGBTI-led organizations, which are crucial for collecting data and providing safe, non-judgmental health care to LGBTI people.

♦      Legally prohibiting non-consensual medical procedures, including intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilization, and forced anal examinations enacted upon LGBTI people.

Authors from the report will join representatives from United Nations Development Programme, a representative from the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN, and global and regional LGBT+ civil society organisations to discuss the necessity of collecting data on LGBT+ people at an official UN event during the HLPF on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at 6:15pm.

To read the report in full, click here: