Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have many of the same health concerns as anyone else, but cultural differences and the impact of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia mean that these health needs may be experienced quite differently. LGBT people also do not have the same access to health care that many Canadians take for granted, as they often face several barriers when attempting to access health care.
Due in part to negative past experiences, many LGBT people may delay or avoid seeking health care altogether. They may choose to withhold personal information from health care providers as well, because of the fear that disclosure will lead to prejudice and discrimination. In addition, LGBT people have some unique health concerns and may be at increased risk for certain health issues. Most health care providers are not trained on these LGBT health needs and may not be sensitive to the particular health risks or knowledgeable about how to work with LGBT people.
In general, LGBT people end up receiving less quality health care than the population as a whole. A 2008 Statistics Canada study showed that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals were more likely than heterosexuals to report having had an unmet health care need in the past year (Health Reports, Vol.19, No.1, March 2008). Often, this lack of access is compounded by membership in other groups which also face discrimination or other access problems including Aboriginal communities, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minority groups, newcomers, rural communities and people living in poverty.
We all deserve to be healthy, and being healthy means taking care of our physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and spiritual needs.
The Rainbow Health Ontario website is designed to provide information to help both LGBT people and their health care providers become more aware of LGBT health issues:
• To learn more about specific LGBT health issues affecting the LGBT communities, visit the LGBT Health Issues page.
• To find information about LGBT health resources such as brochures, research reports, training materials and websites from Ontario, Canada and around the world, search the RHO Resource Database.
• To find out about training and education for service providers, visit the Training pages.
• To read about LGBT health research and policy issues, visit the Research & Policy section.
• To get definitions for the different terms used by LGBT communities, check the Glossary.