Discrimination and exclusion are taking its toll on the health of LGBTI Victorians, with new VicHealth research released today highlighting significantly lower levels of mental wellbeing amongst the LGBTI community.
The research showed LGBTI Victorians rated their mental wellbeing score as 73.6 compared with 77.5 for their heterosexual counterparts. The research also found LGBTI Victorians reported lower life satisfaction and were less trusting in and less connected to their local communities.
The study of over 22,000 Victorians, including around 900 LGBTI people, found:
- LGBTI Victorians reported an average mental wellbeing score of 73.6 compared with heterosexuals who rated their mental wellbeing at 77.5.
- The average life satisfaction score for LGBTI Victorians was only 7.3 compared with 7.8 for heterosexual Victorians.
- 6 in 10 LGBTI people in regional Victoria agree that their community members can be trusted compared with 8 in 10 heterosexual people in regional areas.
- Only two in three LGBTI Victorians agreed that people in their community were willing to help their neighbours compared with three-quarters of heterosexuals.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the research showed the critical need to combat discrimination and exclusion of LGBTI Victorians.
“Everyone deserves the same opportunity to experience good health and happiness. However this new research shows LGBTI Victorians are experiencing poorer mental wellbeing than their heterosexual neighbours,” she said.
“An extensive body of previous research has shown that homophobia and discrimination have an extremely serious impact on mental wellbeing of LGBTI people, leading to feelings of isolation and disconnection from their community.
“We need to do more to make LGBTI Victorians feel welcome in our community, including ending discriminatory laws and attitudes that may be putting LGBTI people at risk of poor health.”
Ms Rechter said the new research highlighted the opportunity for the community to prioritise the health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community in the current same-sex marriage postal survey.
“If we continue to legally exclude lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians from marriage, we run the risk of perpetuating the unfair and avoidable inequality in health and wellbeing that LGBTI people currently experience,” Ms Rechter said.
“It’s fantastic to see the Victorian Government take the lead in supporting the LGBTI community throughout this harmful debate, with additional support for mental health services and LGBTI organisations to keep up with heightened demands.
“The potential health benefits of legalising same-sex marriage for LGBTI Australians present a clear rationale for amending the Marriage Act. Marriage equality would be a huge step toward a more inclusive Victoria.
“It is well and truly time for marriage equality in Australia, and VicHealth will continue to work with LGBTI Victorians to ensure they can live their lives to the fullest and enjoy the best possible health and wellbeing.”
The full VicHealth Indicators Survey 2015 Supplementary report: Sexuality is available at www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/indicators-sexuality
VicHealth’s position paper on marriage equality is available at www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/policy-intervention-and-action/vichealths-position-on-marriage-equality