Homophobia and transphobia affect all ages
The campaign for the 2016 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia highlights the reality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) seniors.
LGBT seniors experience the same aging-related issues that all seniors experience. However, studies of their living conditions show that many LGBT seniors also face special challenges. In general, they:
- do not have a family support network as strong as that of heterosexuals;
- are afraid of being subjected to homophobia and transphobia in senior settings and fear that they will have to hide their sexual orientation or their gender identity or expression;
- are more prone than the average person to experience loneliness and depression and develop substance use disorders;
- are more likely to contemplate suicide;
This situation is the result of hardships encountered during their lives. The criminalization, medical pathologization and religious condemnation of homosexuality and trans identity are the source of stereotypes, prejudices and stigmas that persist today. This failure to recognize their special circumstances, notably in settings where seniors live and receive services, has negative impacts on their physical and psychological health.
A few statistics on LGBT people aged 50 and over
- 39 % have seriously considered taking their lives;
- 31 % experience symptoms of depression;
- 21 % have not revealed their sexual orientation or gender identity to their general practitioner ;
- 53 % experience isolation.
For further information
What is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia?
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is observed every year on May 17th.
Spearheaded by Fondation Émergence, and for the first time in the world, a theme-day set aside for the fight against homophobia was organised in Québec on June 4, 2003, and designated as the “National Day Against Homophobia”. With the help of its partners, Fondation Émergence then strove to have this annual day take place on a pan-Canadian level. What’s more, countries such as Belgium, France and United-Kingdom caught on to the idea and set up similar events.
Despite greater recognition of LGBT people, homophobia and transphobia are still present in many countries in the form of discriminatory laws and the death penalty, for example. In other countries, despite the fact that LGBT people are entitled to equal treatment under the law, their rights do not carry over to everyday life. Social equality is not assured. That’s why it’s important to continue to raise awareness about LGBT realities in all settings and demystify prejudices and stereotypes.
Why May 17th?
May 17th is a symbolic day for homosexuals. Having been classified as an illness for many years, homosexuality was removed from the list of mental illnesses on May 17, 1990 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
How to help LGBT seniors?
- Ensure that LGBT seniors receive equal treatment, free of any demonstration of homophobia or transphobia;
- Ensure that LGBT seniors are provided a homophobia and transphobia-free environment;
- Take any necessary measures to ensure that people who work with or spend time with seniors adopt a positive attitude towards homosexuality and transidentity;
- Respect seniors’ choice to reveal or not their sexual orientation or their transidentity;
- Ensure that information obtained about the sexual orientation or transidentity of a senior remains confidential, unless they have given their consent to reveal such information;
- Support the efforts undertaken by seniors who are victims of homophobia or transphobia on the part of workers or other beneficiaries;
- Exhibit signs of openness toward seniors who are isolated due to their sexual orientation or transidentity;
- Encourage respect and open-mindedness in beneficiaries with respect to LGBT seniors;
- Include the fight against homophobia and transphobia in training programs intended for people working with seniors;
- Refrain from making assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation and respect their gender expression or identity.
Subscribe to the Charter of the bientraitance to the elder people LGBT!
- Aging Gayfully program (in french)
- Sage, Services and advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender elders
- National Ressource Centre on LGBT Aging
- Senior Pride Network
Rapport Into the Closet Again An Assessment of Housing Needs and Preferences among LGBTQ2S Seniors and Soon-to-be Seniors in Edmonton. Publié en février 2015. the report (PDF)
Rapport Out & Visible The experiences and attitudes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults, ages 45-75. Publié le 6 octobre 2014. the report (PDF)
Rapport The Aging and Health Report Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults. Publié en 2011. the report (PDF)
Cage, F., Herman, T., & Good, N. (2014). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights around the world. Repéré sur http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2014/may/-sp-gay-rights-world-lesbian-bisexual-transgender
Harrison, J. (2005). Pink, lavender and grey: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex ageing in Australian gerontology. Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, 1 (1), 11–16. http://www.glhv.org.au/files/GLIP_Review_Vol2_2.pdf
Keogh, P., Reid, D., Hickson, F., & Weatherburn, P. (2006). The needs and experiences of Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexual and Trans men and women in Lambeth. The Full Report of Lambeth LGBT Matters, London Burrough Lambeth. Repéré sur www.sigmaresearch.org.uk/files/lambeth_long.pdf
Murray J. & Adam, B. D. (2002). Ageing and HIV risk among gay men. ACT AIDS. Committee of Toronto (Toronto). Repéré sur http://www.actoronto.org/research.nsf/pages/ageing+and+hiv
New York State LGTB Health and Human Services Network, Herman, T., & Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation. (2000). Building community assets: lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual New Yorkers and their families: state of the state report 2000. Albany, NY: The Network.
Schmid, G., Williams, B., Garcia-Calleja, J., Miller, C., Segard, E., Southworth, M., Tonyan, D., Wacloff, J. & Scott, J. (2009) The unexplored story of HIV and ageing. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Repéré sur www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/3/09-064030.pdf
World Health Organization. (2002). National Cancer Control Programmes: Policies and Managerial Guidelines. Repéré sur http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2002/9241545577.pdf?ua=1