Department of Health
LGBTI people with disabilities have been under-recognised by disability agencies. Heterosexuality, sexual fulfilment and interdependent relationships have been a taboo in the care of those with disabilities, until recent times. The taboo still needs to be overcome regarding LGBTI sexuality, sexual expression, gender identity and interdependent relationships. 

All disability workers should be aware that their client's LGBTI status may affect how they access services. Any discomfort or barriers they face because of this could result in further isolation and reluctance to access relevant services.

There is little government policy, guidelines or current research undertaken in the area of LGBTI disability. An Australian wide survey on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Australians collected data on respondents’ ability status. Further analysis of this research showed that 23% of 3,835 respondents aged between 16-89 years had a disability. LGBTI people with a disability experienced:

  • Significantly poorer health
  • Higher psychological distress and anxiety
  • Significantly higher levels of verbal or written abuse, including threats of physical violence or physical assault and sexual assault based on actual or perceived sexuality.

Issues facing LGBTI people with a disability

LGBTI people with a disability experience particular issues or face discrimination, issues include:

  • LGBTI people with disabilities are invisible, because no-one asks the question, and hetero-normative absence of sexuality is assumed.
  • Limited LGBTI sexuality information available for those living with a disability.
  • Care structures vary enormously in suitability for a LGBTI person and rarely provide carers who an understanding of LGBTI issues. The relationship between an individual and their carer network is critical for physical, emotional wellbeing.
  • Trans people with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities, find it very difficult to access supportive healthcare services.

References

Private Lives 2, The second national survey of the health and wellbeing of GLBT Australians. Leonard W., Pitts M et al, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University 2012 [2] LGBTI Disability Forum, 3rd December 2015. (supported by Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality and Dept Human & Health Services).

Reviewed 31 May 2016

Health.vic

Was this page helpful?