LGBTIQ People With Disabilities ‘Higher Risk Of Discrimination And Abuse’

LGBTIQ Discrimination

Forty-six per cent of LGBTIQ people with a disability experienced discrimination, harassment or abuse in the past year, a new report has revealed.

The report was written by academics William Leonard and Dr Rosemary Mann, who reviewed national and international research over 18 years to discover the impact that discrimination and social exclusion have on the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people with disability.

The report, published by La Trobe University and advocacy groups GALFA and GLHV, said research in the area was “fragmented and under-resourced” but identified higher rates of discrimination, reduced access to services, lack of sexual freedom and expression, and reduced support and social connection for LGBTIQ people with disability.


As well as local and international studies, the researchers also drew on unpublished Australian data from national LGBTIQ health and wellbeing survey study Private lives 2 from 2012. Of the 3853 respondents to the study, 22.7 per cent reported having a disability or long-term illness.

According to the data, the LGBTIQ respondents with a disability were 13 per cent more likely to have experienced verbal abuse, written abuse, harassment, or violence in the past 12 months than those without (46 per cent versus 33 per cent).

“LGBTI people with disability may be at increased risk of family violence and violence from carers and support workers. These risks may be even higher for LGBTI people with [intellectual disabilities],” the report reads.

“[The] discrimination from within both LGBTIQ and disability communities [compounds] their sense of social marginality and isolation, contributing to their increased risk of mental health problems.”

The researchers found the risks of violence are higher for women with disabilities and for LGBTIQ people with intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties.

Lesbian and bisexual women with a disability also self-reported significantly higher rates of sexual assault than lesbian and bisexual women without disability at 5 per cent versus 2 per cent, more than double the averages of women in the general population.

The researchers found LGBTI people with disabilities have twice the rates of self-reported anxiety and psychological distress than LGBTIQ people without disabilities (52 per cent compared to 27 per cent).

And 18.7 per cent of respondents with a disability reported having no employment versus 4.3 per cent of the LGBTIQ respondents without a disability.

Rates of self-reported disability and long-term illness in the Private Lives 2 data were considerably higher among trans people: 33.6 per cent of trans women and 38.3 per cent of trans men.

“Trans and gender diverse people with disability experience even greater discrimination when accessing services than LGB people with disability and, in particular, are less likely to access aged care services due to fear and anticipation of discrimination,” the report reads.

The full report is available here.