LGBT people at a health disadvantage

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 (Image: Pixabay CC0) (Image: Pixabay CC0)

The University of Lucerne studied whether and in which areas lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) people have unequal health opportunities compared to the rest of the Swiss population. The study shows that LGBT people are at a disadvantage in terms of health, particularly in the areas of psychological and sexual health and substance use.

Mental health

LGBT people in Switzerland are more likely than the rest of the population to suffer from mental disorders and illnesses. This is particularly the case for depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. The probability of suicide attempts is four times higher among LGBT people.

Experiences of discrimination and violence

A large majority (67.6%) of LGBT persons in Switzerland have experienced discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. About a quarter of them have also had such experiences in the context of health care.

The study assumes that discrimination and stigmatization, among other things, cause a part of the LGBT population in Switzerland not to use medical services. The lack of trust in the medical profession, hospitals, etc. is twice as high among LGBT people as in the rest of the Swiss population (about 16% versus 7%).

Substance Use

The use of psychoactive substances that are harmful to health is significantly higher among LGBT people. This is particularly noticeable in the use of tobacco and/or alcohol. According to the study, health damage from excessive use is an important and urgent area of focus in which LGBT persons are disadvantaged.

Sexual health

In Switzerland, too, gay and bisexual men are a vulnerable group with regard to HIV and STIs. But trans/non-binary people as well as lesbian and bisexual women are also concerned and need to be sensitized.

Physical health

Trans/non-binary people rated their own health status significantly worse than other members of the LGBT population. In addition, they more often suffer from chronic or long-term illnesses and are more often affected by restrictions in daily life due to health problems.

Conclusion

Based on their research, the HSLU research team, led by Paula Krüger and Andreas Pfister, concludes that LGBT persons are disadvantaged in terms of health in Switzerland. In addition, the research report contains recommendations which the FOPH and the Federal Council now want to consider for concrete measures.