‘Lifetime of prejudice’ harming LGBT people

Report reveals stark health inequalities continue to affect older LGBT people

Wednesday 8th May 2019

A thinktank has found a ‘lifetime of prejudice and stigma is leading to worse physical and mental health’ among LGBT people over the age of 50.

Researchers at the International Longevity Centre also warn the group suffers from greater levels of social isolation and loneliness in old age.

Dr Brian Beach of the ILC says the health service needs to ‘enhance’ its understanding of older LGBT people’s health needs.  

The study, based on a project conducted by academics from University College London and Cardiff University, finds older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are 1.2 times more likely to rate their health poorly, which experts say is a ‘strong predictor’ of future mortality.

Moreover, gay or bisexual older men are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to be living with a long-term illness and have lower overall life satisfaction.

Part of the solution, the researchers say, lies in better data collection.

Statistics on sexual orientation of patients are not routinely collected by hospitals, meaning the specific needs of this group can be ‘overlooked’.

Meanwhile, the report says mainstream healthcare needs to be ‘consciously inclusive’ and calls for national rules to guide staff equality and diversity training.

Dr Beach added: “It is disheartening that in 2019 we continue to see health inequalities between older LGBT people and their heterosexual and cisgender peers.

“We need to see action now to build on the NHS’s pledge to end discrimination in health and care across the country. We must also enhance our understanding of the needs of the older LGBT community. Health and care staff must be trained to ensure that they are not directly or indirectly discriminating against older LGBT people.”