This article was submitted by Suman Lahiry, a PhD student in Community Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology.
Health is a basic and fundamental right for every person on this planet. Any sort of denial, discrimination and disempowerment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) has a grave impact on national and global health. Many countries have an inequitable and inefficient health policy due to their explicit discriminatory laws (such as criminalisation of homosexuality) and implicit prejudiced legislation (such as exclusion of male rape from sexual assault law). Detrimental impacts on the health of the self-identifying gay population in these countries – owing to homophobic violence, HIV risk patterns and risk taking, substance abuse, lack of gay-specific mental health counselling, compromised clinical care, and discriminatory health policy – is extremely prevalent.
Regarding the life pattern effects, gays in general face taboo, stigmatization, rejection, discrimination, withdrawal, isolation, difficulty in maintaining relationships, as well as lack of recognition of relationships. The intertwined issues of compromised social supports and physical and mental illness are never addressed at policy level in most countries. The homophobic violence as vilification, harassment, assault, vandalism, hate mail, blackmail and murder have intense negative impacts on physical, mental and social health. Severe depression and suicide is extremely common among the LGBT population.
Homophobic barriers such as refusing treatment, maltreatment, substandard treatment, cruel and insensitive treatment, lack of confidentiality, flawed HIV/AIDS policies, inaccessibility as well as insufficient social services, and lack of welfare provisions to and for LGBT are rarely quantified.
Homophobia needs to be eliminated in all spheres.
This will ensure not only the health of LGBT population, but also for the general wellbeing of a nation and the international community.
Pride Week will be celebrated at the University of Newcastle from September 12-14.
Postgraduate students who have issues related to their sexuality or gender identity and require confidential, social support or referral are welcome to contact Barrie, NUPSA’s LGBTQI Representative via e-mail at Barrie.Shannon@uon.edu.au.
NUPSA also encourages students to reach out to the Student Counselling Services (Hunter Hub on Level 2 of the Student Services Building) if they are looking for confidential support and advice.