Gay and lesbian seniors left in the cold when accessing health care

Monday, July 26 2010

Ottawa, February 13th 2007: Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation poses a very real problem for many gay and lesbian seniors, all despite recent legislative and societal changes toward gays and lesbians.

According to a report by Bill Ryan of McGill University, many gay and lesbian seniors in Canada experience reduced quality of care and reduced access to health services directly attributable to long term homophobia. Seniors are put into situations where they may feel legitimate fear of homophobia from health practitioners, putting them at considerably higher risk than many other heterosexual-identified seniors of the same age demographic.

Ryan's report, The Health and Social Service Needs of Gay and Lesbian Seniors and Their Families, outlines the experience shared by seniors in Canada through a series of focus group discussions. It outlines their stories and underscores the loneliness and isolation experienced by being the oldest gay person in one's social group and how that impacts on quality of life and access to health and social services. Indeed, the researchers point out that many gay and lesbian seniors will decide not to access certain services even when their personal health and security depend on it. The report calls for action from community services and governments to improving conditions for gay and lesbian seniors in Canada.

For more information, please contact Elizabeth Wright at or Adam Graham at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa at 613 238 5014 ext. 224.

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