The unprecedented public health crisis we face presents enormous challenges to governments and health systems across Australia. Beyond the immediate health impacts of COVID-19, the social and economic consequences are serious and far-reaching.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may exacerbate existing health inequalities. Some populations that experience health inequalities are disproportionately affected and may be further marginalised when accessing crucial health and social wellbeing services. This includes LGBTI people.
We know that COVID-19 does not discriminate; nor should our health response. This is why we have developed the #LGBTIHealthPledge campaign – to promote LGBTI inclusive principles to ensure that LGBTI people continue to receive culturally appropriate and affirmative care during this challenging time.
Our Campaign Goals:
- Build awareness around the unique challenges LGBTI people face when accessing the health system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Promote principles of LGBTI inclusive practice to ensure that LGBTI people continue to receive culturally safe and high-quality services now and into the future.
- Build confidence within LGBTI communities that mainstream health and wellbeing services across Australia will continue to consider their unique health needs and circumstances.
- Reduce discrimination and stigma against LGBTI in healthcare settings and thereby improving their health outcomes.
Take the #LGBTIHealthPledge today and share our tips for LGBTI inclusive practice. Through social solidarity and understanding we can ease the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTI communities.
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Ageing and Aged Care
Older LGBTI people, like many other older Australians, are vulnerable to COVID–19. Most have experienced a time where identities were moralised, pathologised, despised or criminalized.
Aversion therapies were encouraged, and non-consensual surgeries were routinely performed.
Older LGBTI people draw support from families of choice, but many will experience heightened feelings of isolation and loneliness during this time. Below are some tips on how to provide inclusive care for older LGBTI people.
Although many LGBTI people live healthy and happy lives, it is well documented that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers.
Access to affirmative peer support and maintaining connection to community have been shown to be important protective factors on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people.
Physical distancing measures and community and cultural spaces closing means that face-to-face interactions will be significantly disrupted, and may compound mental health issues. It is vital that mental health services are accessible and inclusive for LGBTI people so they can get the mental health support they need.
Intimate Partner Violence & Family of Origin Violence
It has been noted by the family violence sector that the current pandemic will see an increase in the rates of intimate partner and family violence, putting enormous pressure on services to respond.
LGBTI people may be separated from their “family of choice” and friends who are not in their household, which has shown to be protective factors for overall health and wellbeing.
Some young LGBTI who are living with their “family of origin” may hide or modify their identity and expressions out of fear or shame. When “coming out” to family members, LGBT young people may face rejection, abuse, and violence. Intersex people can also be subject to rejection and abuse when they identify in a way that is different to their gender assigned at birth. It is vital that family violence services are responsive to the distinct needs of LGBTI people during this time.
Trans and Gender Diverse
Trans and gender diverse people experience higher levels of discrimination and stigma in healthcare settings.
The recent Blues to Rainbows report asked 188 trans and gender diverse young people their reasons for not seeing a health care professional. Among the reasons were fears that they wouldn’t be understood (33%), the language used by health professionals made them feel uncomfortable or angry (23%), and negative past experiences (30%).
The health and wellbeing of intersex people is determined to some extent by biological factors. For example, people with intersex variations, particularly those with sex chromosome variations, can be at risk of cardiovascular disease. Their health can also be socially determined. For example, experiences of discrimination, stigma and trauma in medical settings means that people with intersex variations may avoid the healthcare system, to the detriment of their overall health and wellbeing (Intersex Human Rights Australia, 2020).
Paying specific attention to the health needs and circumstances of intersex people is fundamental to providing inclusive care during the COVID-10 crisis. Below are some tips on how to provide inclusive care to people with intersex variations.
For more information on intersex issues, and to read and affirm the Darlington Statement, please visit Intersex Human Rights Australia www.ihra.org.au
LGBTI people living with disability, are currently experiencing additional, unforeseen costs and barriers to appropriate supports in the COVID-19 crisis, which is causing significant levels of anxiety and distress. The physical and mental health impacts of social isolation may also be more heavily felt by LGBTI people with particular disabilities. Below are some tips on how to provide inclusive care to LGBTI people living with disability.
Drug and Alcohol
Research has clearly demonstrated that LGBTI people use alcohol and illicit drugs at higher rates than the general population. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTI people may struggle to safely manage their drug and alcohol use, especially when socially isolating and support networks are disrupted. Below are some tips on how to provide inclusive care to LGBTI people using alcohol and other drugs.
Bisexual + People
Bisexual+ people are commonly misunderstood by mainstream society, and invisible in the broader LGBTI community and activism. This contributes to bisexual+ people experiencing higher rates of physical and mental health disparities.
To receive a personalised Pledge Certificate send us your logo! Or for more information on how to get involved, please contact our Policy and Research Coordinator Daniel Comensoli at firstname.lastname@example.org