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Health Issues of LQBTQIA++

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July 08, 2022

What is the issue?

The mental illnesses and challenges that India’s LGBTQIA++ people face need comprehensive and long-term solutions.

Who are LGBTQIA++?

  • The “L, G” and “B” refer to sexual orientation, meaning those to which one is attracted, most often referring to lesbian or gay.
  • Bisexual is an attraction to both males and females.
  • Transgender refers to one who identifies as a sex other than was named at birth.
  • The Q indicates questioning and queer.
  • Questioning is a label one might use to convey they are exploring their identity and may not want to label themselves while Queer is often used to identify oneself as a member of the LGBTQIA++ community.
  • The “I” speaks to intersex in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
  • ‘A’ refers to asexual who do not have sexual feelings.
  • ‘++’ suggests openness and inclusivity.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has unanimously decriminalised homosexuality by strucking down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code.

Why LGBTQIA++ communities remain at risk of life-long mental illnesses and challenges?

  • The Raahat Project that has been working on through participatory methods has opened a host of issues that LGBTQIA++ communities face in leading colleges on an ongoing basis.
  • Reasons for mental illness
    • Life-long dissonance
    • Deep-rooted stigma
    • Discrimination
    • Abuse
    • Pressure to accept gender roles and sexual identities
  • Effects of stigmatizing
    • Internalised homophobia
    • Anxiety and loneliness
    • Substance use
    • Extreme distress and poor self-worth
    • Self-hate and suffering
    • Gender dysphoria

LGBTQIA++ youth are likely to suffer 1.75 times more anxiety and depression while the transgender community s suffer 2.4 times higher anxiety and depression than the rest of society.

What are the health concerns?

  • Affirmative mental health services are hardly available.
  • A majority of the psychiatrists in India still consider diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as a disorder and practice ‘correctional therapy’.
  • The situation is same in case of general health care.
  • The government health care is less preferred because of the harassment and stigma.

How to sustain the mental health of LGBTQIA++ communities?

  • Multistakeholder approach- There is a need for comprehensive long-term solutions that must engage with all stakeholders - educational institutions, communities, health-care providers, mental health professionals, police personnel and families who are often a key source of mental health stress.
  • Building self-care skills- A key aspect is building self-care skills among queer adolescents and youth.
  • Movement on queer mental health- There is a need for a movement on queer mental health guided by non-discrimination and public awareness in order to change social attitudes.
  • Community building- Community building is an important part of improving the mental health for LGBTQIA++ people.
  • Safe spaces- We need to create supportive, safe and educative spaces, access points for health care and information on mental health.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-community-and-a-health-issue-of-concern/article65614270.ece
  2. https://www.amle.org/lgbtqia-what-do-the-letters-mean-and-how-do-i-support-my-students/

 

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