Diane Abbott backs LGB health campaign

Labour MP Diane Abbott is backing a charity’s call for better access to health services for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people.

It comes as The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) has revealed statistics showing that LGB people are twice as likely as heterosexual people to have suicidal thoughts or to make suicide attempts, and are two to three times more likely to suffer from depression.

The LGF, based in Manchester, has launched a new guide that aims to demystify mental health and help people understand how they can look after it.

Ms Abbott, the shadow minister for public health, said: “Improving access to health services for LGBT people will be a public health priority for my party.”

Other statistics show that one in four gay and bisexual (GB) men report being in fair or bad health compared with one in six men in general, while a third of GB men who have accessed healthcare services in the past year have had a negative experience related to their sexual orientation.

Lucy Rolfe, wellbeing manager at The LGF, said: “Shocking statistics show that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are at greater risk of self-harm, suicide, depression and are more likely to smoke, drink and take illegal drugs. Yet LGB people often face barriers in accessing the services they need.”

Paul Martin, chief executive of The LGF, said: “The health needs of LGB people can be easily overlooked by mainstream health organisations. The Lesbian and Gay Foundation is currently working with all of the major political parties to ensure that these often ignored health needs are placed firmly on their agenda.”

Ms Abbott will be dedicating a chapter of Labour’s Policy Review document, the final version of which will be presented at the next party conference, to LGBT health.