Department of Health

People from cultural, linguistic and faith backgrounds

Key messages

  • People can face ‘multiple marginality’ when issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status and cultural, faith and linguistic diversity intersect.
  • LGBTI people from culturally and linguistically diverse and faith backgrounds can be supported through connections with peer groups and networks.
  • The location of services may be an issue for LGBTI people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. While some may be happy to access services closely linked to their community, others may prefer their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status not to be known to anyone in their community.
  • LGBTI people from faith backgrounds may have experienced additional discrimination and stigma.

Cultural identity can involve complex expectations and social norms relating to sexuality and gender. Diverting from culturally accepted sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status can, in some circumstances, impact on a person’s feelings of belonging, such as in a family or a specific ethnic community. People from culturally and linguistically diverse and faith backgrounds can face ‘multiple marginalities’ when issues of sexuality, gender identity, intersex status and cultural and linguistic diversity intersect. For example, values such as respect for elders, religious values, and concern with not bringing shame on themselves, their family or their community may contribute to decisions not to disclose sexual feelings, orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Conversely, some people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are LGBTI feel accepted and supported by their families and ethnic communities and are able to express their multiple identities.

People who are LGBTI from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can be supported through connections with other people who are LGBTI who share a common language or culture and networks with broader LGBTI populations (some of which may include programs or services specifically targeting diverse populations). These networks can be particularly critical for newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who may lack social support.

LGBTI people from a faith background may require extra support in navigating their traditions. Religious beliefs can provide a sense meaning. However, LGBTI people can be excluded or marginalised in mainstream religious traditions, resulting in distress and anxiety. Views on LGBTI sexuality as contrary to their scriptures can also contribute to feelings of shame. It is important when working with people who have a religious faith to be cautious in suggesting they expose their sexual identity by coming out too quickly. 

The location of services may be an issue for people who are LGBTI from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. While some may feel comfortable accessing services closely linked to their community, others may wish their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status to remain private.

Pastoral Counselling Institute 
NSW/ACT Synod
Dr Robyn Goodwin 

Dr Graeme Randall of Campbelltown Uniting Church. 
Email thunderchest@hotmail.com 

Matt Glover  
http://mgacounselling.com.au

References

Harris, A., 2011, Teaching Diversities: Same sex attracted young people, CALD communities, and arts-based community education, Carlton: Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Mann, R., Horsley, P., Saunders, M., Briggs, V. & Mitchell, A., 2006, Swimming upstream: Making places welcoming. A report on the needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in ‘hard to reach’ groups, Melbourne.

Poljski, C., 2011, Coming out, coming home or inviting people in? Supporting same-sex attracted women from immigrant and refugee communities, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH).

Reeders, D. W., 2010, Double Trouble? The Health Needs of Culturally Diverse MSM, Melbourne: Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health.

Reviewed 09 September 2015

Health.vic

Contact details

International, interstate and mobile callers: +61 3 9096 9000

Diversity team Department of Health

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