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LGBT mental health and well being

IDAHOT 2016 Global Focus Issue: Mental Health and Well Being at the heart of many discussions


With an ever-increasing awareness of the issues facing the LGBT community, the general public is beginning to gain a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of many important issues. Although much progress has been made in recent years there are still many areas in need of improvement. Mental Health & Wellbeing are two areas on the forefront of this progress towards equality.

Through our global focus for 2016 and our detailed background note we hoped to encourage meaningful discussions over issues such as patholigisation, stigma and physical and mental health needs. This global focus has helped draw attention to these ongoing problems and has helped many groups build plans that address these often underlooked areas. From Latin America to East Asia, groups across the world have embraced this subject and planned a large selection of events and campaigns.  

In early March the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) issued a strong statement affirming that sexual and gender diversities should not be viewed as a mental illnesses. The leading global organization officially stated that it viewed the criminalization (and mental illness classification) of sexual and gender diversities as wrong. The group also condemned the use of so-called ‘conversion therapies’ and called for psychiatrists across the world to fight against stigma and the persecution of sexual minorities. While the statement fails to clearly identify the ongoing issue with the WHO’s current classification of diseases, activists around the world have been able to use it to support their advocacy in many respects.

The United Nations also joined in the mobilisation on the theme by issuing a special statement on May 12th. The statement by UN and regional human rights mechanisms makes an urgent appeal for an end to the pathologization of trans, as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual adults and children, highlighting the many harmful impacts and human rights violations linked to pathologizing and stigmatizing medical classifications. You can read the full statement in EnglishFrench and Spanish

In India, the Humsafar Trust launched the national ‘Queers Against Quacks’ campaign which is running throughout the month of IDAHOT. The campaign is calling upon the community and allies to target, shame and protest health professionals and public figures supporting bad mental health practices or using pseudoscience to promote discriminatory agendas. Already the campaign has targeted so-called ‘conversion therapies’ and has helped encourage Indians to address outdated and discriminatory world views.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, the 4th Annual IDAHOt Forum gathered experts and policy makers from across the continent to discuss issues facing Europe’s LGBT population. The event was opened by Danish Crown Princess Mary, and had a strong focus on health and psychological issues.

In Lebanon the Lebanese Psychological Association will release a public statement against discriminatory practices to mark IDAHOT 2016. The group’s action mirrors similar moves down by a number of psychological associations across the world.

In Jordan this theme was also part of the celebrations held very confidentially with the support of supportive Embassies

On an international scale the Council of Europe, Europe’s central organisation for the promotion of human rights, freedom and development, came out in support of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. In a statement released online Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland also supported a special focus on LGBTI youth across the world. According to the statement, discrimination of young LGBTI individuals should have no place in schools, and that more should be done by educators and policymakers to address issues including discrimination and mental health and wellbeing.

The British Psychological Society edited a special IDAHOT issue of their Psychology of Sexualities review, with a collection of papers concerning LGBTI Psychology in Greece, Sweden, Thailand and the Philippines. The publication also features input from IDAHOT Committee staff and will discuss how campaigners can apply scientific findings to practical work.

In London the annual Kaleidoscope Trust’s IDAHOT lecture featured an expert discussion on mental health and wellbeing within the LGBT community.

In Brighton, the British Psychological Society hosted a public seminar on mental health and the LGBT community. The group will also hold a Twitter chat on discrimination and mental health during which they will hope to foster a meaningful public discourse over the LGBT community’s relationship to mental health.

In Germany, groups across the country will have a special focus on mental health and wellbeing during their actions for 2016. German activists and campaigners have been especially energized following recent news that their government would atone for the criminalization of gay and bisexual men during the early post-Nazi period. In Jena an eclectic range of events will include discussions and workshops on mental health. In Trier, Köln and Hannover smaller events will also include these issues in their focus.

In Armenia, local LGBT group Pink Armenia, will host a number of events alongside partner NGOs to address discrimination within the country. The range of events will also include a press conference that covers various needs of the LGBT community, including health and mental health-related.

In Whanganui, New Zealand, local activists will host Shift Whanganui, a weekend of workshops and activities for LGBTI youth aimed at fostering creative and meaningful engagement within the community. The unique event will also have a special focus on mental health and wellbeing issues related to LGBTI young people.

In Fiji, a number of public organisations, community groups and NGOs will gather this year for a special event marking IDAHOT 2016. The event will feature health charities and campaigns from across the South Pacific and will also include an expert panel discussion on mental health within the LGBT community.

In Cambodia, a week of events taking place in Phnom Penh will include talks, workshops and activities with a focus on mental health and LGBT sexual health.

In Lahore, Pakistan, local group NAZ Pakistan will host a panel discussion on the psychological impact of discrimination within the LGBT community. The event will take place alongside a day of events for the LGBT community, including the crowning of ‘Miss Naz Pakistan 2016’.

This issue will also be at the center of the IDAHOT discussions organised in South Africa, Botswana and more places in Africa (kept confidential at this stage for security reasons), which confirms the relevance of this topic across the large spectrum of contexts in which advocates are fighting for the rights of sexual and gender minorities.