Homophobia Causes Mental Stress and Ill-Health

At least a quarter of LGBs have never accessed a mental health service.

Less than half the mental health agencies monitor the sexual orientation of service users.


Leeds – 10 October 2006

“This immensely valuable report is a wake up call to the LGB community and to mental health agencies,” said gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“It shows a high level of mental health needs among LGB people, and a failure of most mental health bodies to adequately address those needs.

Mr Tatchell was speaking on World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2006, at the Leeds Art Gallery. He was a keynote speaker at the launch of Out But Not Left Out, a pioneering study of the mental health needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in Leeds, produced by the Leeds LGB Mental Health Partnership.

“Although based on a survey of LGB people in the Leeds area, these findings are likely to reflect the wider, broader needs of LGBT people right across Britain. This report is of national significance,” he told the Out But Not Left Out conference.

“It shows that over a third of LGB people have mental health issues, with more than half reporting having had suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives.

“At least a quarter of LGB people with mental health needs have never accessed a mental health service. “Less than half of the mental health agencies monitor the sexual orientation of their service users, which makes it difficult for them to assess the needs of the LGB community and to tailor services to meet these needs.

“These statistics are truly shocking. There is no reason to believe that Leeds is unique. In all probability, these figures apply nationwide.

“There is clearly a major mis-match between the mental health needs of LGB people and the provision of mental health services to them.”

“Society needs to tackle the homophobia that pushes many LGB people into mental ill-health: difficulties in coming to terms with their sexual orientation, the stress of hiding one’s homosexuality, rejection by family and friends, teasing and bullying at school, harassment and discrimination at work, homophobic hate crimes, ostracism by anti-gay neighbours, relationship problems and domestic violence, peer pressure to get drunk and use recreational drugs, victimisation by homophobic laws, and, if the individual has a faith, being cast out by their church, mosque, synagogue or mosque.”

Mr Tatchell went on to stress that “there is no shame in people acknowledging mental health difficulties and seeking support. This candour is a precondition for treatment and recovery”:

“I have suffered from periodic bouts of severe depression, on account of the deluge of hate mail, death threats and violent assaults that I have suffered for the last 25 years. I have had bricks through my windows, a bullet through the door and three arson attacks. I’ve been beaten up hundreds of times by homophobic yobs and right-wing extremists. Nearly all my teeth are chipped and cracked. Bring beaten unconscious by President Mugabe’s bodyguards has left me with minor brain and eye damage.

“Thankfully, I’ve got a network of loyal, supportive friends who have helped see me through these dark moments.

“Not everyone has such wonderful friends, and sometimes friends are not enough. That is why we need LGB-friendly and accessible mental health services – services attuned and responsive to the particular needs of LGB people.

“I commend Leeds LGB Mental Health Partnership and the authors of Out But Not Left Out, Nathalie Noret, Ian Rivers and Andrew Richards. You have produced an important report of value to LGB people in Leeds and beyond. Congratulations and thank you,” said Mr Tatchell.