United Nations Must Address the Health and Well-Being of LGBTI People
July 5, 2017 - 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 recognize and address the impact of stigma, discrimination, violence, and criminalization 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 LGBTI people. The HLPF will take place at UN headquarters in New York from July 10-19.
While data regarding LGBTI health needs are inadequate and incomplete across the globe, the data that is available demonstrate that the health of LGBTI 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 criminalization, 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, commented:
"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.
OutRight Action International's Global Research Coordinator, Dr. Felicity Daly, commented:
"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 LGBTI 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 LGBTI civil society organizations to discuss the necessity of collecting data on LGBTI people at an official UN event during the HLPF on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at 6:15PM.
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) was founded in 2006 at the Toronto International AIDS Conference by an international group of activists concerned about the disproportionate HIV disease burden being shouldered by men who have sex with men worldwide. Today, we are an expanding network of advocates and experts in sexual health, human rights, research, and policy, working to ensure an effective response to HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men. MSMGF watchdogs public health policies and funding trends; strengthens local advocacy capacity through our programs initiatives; and supports more than 120 community-based organizations across 62 countries who are at the frontlines of the HIV response.
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About OutRight Action International
Every day around the world, LGBTIQ people's human rights and dignity are abused in ways that shock the conscience. The stories of their struggles and their resilience are astounding, yet remain unknown—or willfully ignored—by those with the power to make change. OutRight Action International, founded in 1990 as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, works alongside LGBTIQ people in the Global South, with offices in six countries, to help identify community-focused solutions to promote policy for lasting change. We vigilantly monitor and document human rights abuses to spur action when they occur. We train partners to expose abuses and advocate for themselves. Headquartered in New York City, OutRight is the only global LGBTIQ-specific organization with a permanent presence at the United Nations in New York that advocates for human rights progress for LGBTIQ people.
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About the Platform
The Global Platform to Fast Track the Human Rights and HIV Responses with Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men works towards achieving UNAIDS 2020 and 2030 targets by advising UN agencies, the Global Fund, U.S. PEPFAR, bilateral donors, and international funders of the global HIV response. Convened by MSMGF and UNAIDS, the Platform, in partnership with grassroots advocates and their networks represented by the Consortium of MSM and Transgender Networks, takes an active role in elevating the sexual health and human rights concerns of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in the context of the global HIV response.