People with disability who identify in the LGBTIQ+ community experience compounding disadvantage. This means that the disadvantage they may experience due to disability can be made more impactful by their sexuality or gender or identity diversity. Our LGBTIQ+ community may be less likely to access the supports they need and champion their rights. We need to understand this, in order to advocate affectively for the rights of all people with disability.
A lack of supports and services may lead to isolation and vulnerability, bullying, mental health issues and legal issues. Even when services are accessed, the needs of people with disability who identify as LGBTIQ+ can sometimes be ignored if services are not inclusive, safe and accessible. For example, LGBTIQ+ adults with intellectual disability living in supported accommodation may find expression of their sexual identity difficult in non-inclusive environments. This is usually because assumptions are made and decisions about people with disability are made without them.
Discrimination prevents people with disability who identify with a diverse community group from expressing their views and wishes. People who are LGBTIQ+ with disabilities may rely on a small network of supporters or carers who may not be aware of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Alternatively, they may be open about their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status but feel that this is sometimes ignored as a result of their disability.
Through communicating their sexuality or identity, some people who are LGBTIQ+ with disabilities may have lost vital family support to manage their disabilities and may find themselves distanced from peers with disabilities. In some circumstances, there can be a lack of communication and education between disability service providers and the wider LGBTIQ+ community. Sometimes they may also experience isolation and marginalisation within the LGBTIQ+ community.
While there is limited research in disability and the LGBTIQ+ community, current research suggests that:
- People with disabilities may be at higher risk for sexual abuse, including intimate partner violence, than in the general population.
- Same-sex attracted, gender diverse and intersex (SSAGDI) young people with disabilities may be at higher risk for compromised sexual health due to a lack of appropriate sex education.
- SSAGDI young people with intellectual disabilities may feel ‘invisible’ if sexual health education is not inclusive.
- People who are LGBTIQ+ with disabilities are often treated as heterosexual or non-sexual.
Providing information and opportunities for people with disabilities who are LGBTIQ+ to develop and express sexual orientation or gender identity can result in positive health outcomes. Avenues of sexual identity expression include conversation, reading material, social media and social groups, all of which can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people who are LGBTIQ+ with a disability.
IF YOU NEED SUPPORT
DACSSA is able to provide advocacy and support addressing a specific issue you may experience in relation to living with disability, which may also relate to being LGBTIQ+.
A DACSSA advocate is able to listen to your issues and help to clarify and identify the issues at hand to help you find resolution. Please contact us should you need our assistance.