April 18, 2008

Publication: Leitrim Post

Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 Page: 8

Author: Denis O'Brien 

editorial@leitrimpost.com

Headline: LBG community outline major issues  A new North West study documenting access to health services by those with different sexual orientations finds that legal rights and mental well-being are key issues in the groundbreak- ing report.

The report conducted by the HSE and the Equality Authority is entitled 'Recognising Sexual Identities in Health Services' and research into the experience of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in accessing health services in the region. Welcoming the study, Leitrim LGB activist and community development worker, Haley Fox- Roberts, hoped that the HSE could now act on its findings. "The study highlights the needs of LGB persons and it means that issues are being identified.

For the HSE to use the terms lesbian, gay and bi-sexual is in itself recognition and that people are no longer invisible. The report is a move in the right direction and now the HSE has to act on recommendations," she stated. Leitrim participants Participants in the report, six of whom were from Leitrim, expressed concerns over partnership rights and reported difficulties in health care settings in the absence of legal recognition for their relationships.

Findings also showed that satisfaction with health care, particularly Primary Care, was found to be greater among gay men and lesbians who have disclosed their sexual orientation to the practitioner. Twelve of the 43 participants in the research had never informed health care providers about their sexual identity and 22 had only disclosed to some providers. Respondents had a high take up of mental health services due to mental strains associated with a lack of acceptance of lesbian, gay and bi-sexual identity. Many feared negative reactions and discrimination.

Meanwhile, Outwest – the social and support group for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the west and northwest of Ireland – has received funding for the training of new volunteers. If you are gay or bisexual, and would like to take part in this training, please ring the Outwest Gay Helpline out of hours (094 9372479) and leave your name and contact details. Alternatively, ring Marty, the helpline co-ordinator, on 086 1068089.

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