LGBTI+ persons with disabilities: Discrimination “makes us feel lost, alone and like we don’t belong to either community”

Title quote by Anis Akhtar from Oppression squared: D/deaf and disabled trans experiences in Europe

LGBTI+ persons are persons whose gender identity and sexual orientation do not fit society’s common view of heterosexuality (feeling romantic and sexual attraction to the opposite gender) and cisgender (identifying with the male/female gender that was assigned at birth).

LGBTI+ persons with disabilities faced increased discrimination in several areas:

  • Access to healthcare
  • Increased risks of school bullying and segregation in specific schools (where they can face increased discrimination)
  • Increased risks of suffering abuse and violence from family and society
  • Denial of labour and trade union rights
  • Difficult access to vocational training programme
  • Trans people with disabilities who face mental health issues totally unrelated to their gender identity may face barriers when trying to access support by mental health
  • More likely to experience poverty and financial difficulties
  • Exclusion from disability and LGBTI+ communities due to homophobia and ableism

LGBTI+ persons with disabilities also report many other difficulties such as coming out due to issues it may cause with their need for assistance and/or with their families.

Our work and partnership with ILGA Europe

It is therefore that is extremely important that disability and LGBTI+ organisations work together and put the voices of LGBTI+ persons with disabilities front and center.

We have been working together with ILGA Europe, the European umbrella organization of LGBTI+ persons  to highlight specific challenges. This work included:

  • Participation in their 2018 annual conference
  • Staff training for both organisations
  • Participating in the first ILGA-Europe Gathering of D/deaf and Disabled LGBTI Activists
  • Supporting ILGA-Europe’s call on funding for projects on LGBTI+ and disability

Gathering of D/deaf and Disabled LGBTI Activists

ILGA-Europe reunited a group of LGBTI+ and disability activists from across Europe in November. The main points from the meetings:

  • Create more connections between LGBTI+ and disability activists and their organisations
  • Bring more visibility for LGBTI+ persons with disabilities in both the disability movement and LGBTI+ movement
  • Search for sources of fundings
  • Ensure advocacy spaces are fully accessible and that there is no homophobia.

You can read more learnings from the meeting and 7 practical takeaways from the meeting.

During the gathering we were able to learn about work done by our member on the intersection of LGBTI+ and disabilities:

Oppression squared: D/deaf and disabled trans experiences in Europe

Transgender Europe published a report on the experience of trans people with disabilities in 2017

Main issues they discovered includes:

  • Barriers to healthcare due to discrimination (homophobia and ableism) and poor accessibility.
  • Particular risk of experiencing torture or ill treatment in healthcare settings.
  • Barriers to independent living and how support is provided may mean they cannot freely express their gender identities
  • Several procedures are often inaccessible including legal gender recognition
  • There is a lack of right to privacy in access to bathrooms (stopping persons from using preferred bathroom)
  • Air travel is especially complicated for trans people with disabilities due to intrusive questions and physical searches.

Report in PDF