Gay community health needs 'neglected' Sunday, 27 October 2013

Published by Radio New Zealand

A report says the gay community experiences disproportionately high levels of suicide, depression and other health problems, but is neglected by funders and policy-makers.

Research commissioned by Auckland District Health Board says many of the health problems are due to minority stress, caused by continuing prejudice.

Report author Michael Stevens says the rate of suicide among young gay men is five times higher than the general population.

Though the legal setting in New Zealand has improved for the gay community, he says, social stigma and shame persist.

"These things have an impact on people's health. In the same way that ethnicity and income levels can have an effect on people's heath, so does being part of the rainbow community."

Mr Stevens says the Government's new suicide prevention strategy doesn't even mention the gay community.

He says both the Government and health health organisations need to make sure the gay community has equal and safe access to healthcare.