By Angelica Bottaro

Access to adequate healthcare is a fundamental human right—or at least it should be. The health of a community as a whole affects its success. For people in the LGBTQ community, access to proper healthcare has long left something to be desired.

A recent poll in The Harvard Gazette found that close to 20% of people from the LGBTQ community haven’t sought out care for a medical issue on the sole fact that they were afraid of discrimination. This staggering statistic should not be par for the course, and in these times, it’s downright criminal that anyone is made to feel like they have to choose between receiving the medical care they need and being scrutinised for who they are.

Barriers Continue To Hold The LGBTQ Community Down!

I’d like to be shocked that people in marginalised groups continue to feel oppression, but I’m not. The barriers that exist for people in the LGBTQ community have only begun to be broken. There is still a lot of work to do though, especially in healthcare. In some places, discrimination has gone so far that treatment or care is refused to someone who identifies as part of the community. This fact is not only wrong—it’s flabbergasting.

The politicisation of someone based on their orientation has gone too far when it gets in the way of someone’s quality of life. If a person is too scared to get treatment, how far will their condition progress before they can no longer do anything about it? According to Human Rights Watch, changes in the regulations during Donald Trump’s reign as president have been aimed at making hurdles even higher for LGBTQ people in the United States. If passed, the new rules will give healthcare providers even more opportunity to refuse to help someone in need based on religious or moral beliefs.

How Healthcare Systems Continue To Fail The LGBTQ Community

Aside from the “moral” and religious actions by people who don’t “believe” in the LGBTQ community and their right to exist without intervention or persecution, other factors come into play putting a seriously broken system into perspective. Many doctors and nurses aren’t equipped with the proper knowledge about the health needs of the LGBTW community. This gap causes problems.

Because of the risk of discrimination, some people may not disclose their sexual orientation. This then leads to them receiving care that isn’t wholly appropriate. When they can’t be honest about who they are or their lifestyle, they won’t receive the proper care. Period.  

Health Problems The LGBTQ Community Has To Face Alone

The obvious gap in healthcare has led to a rampant growth in health issues faced by LGBTQ people daily. Mental illness is one of the biggest concerns among the community, along with eating disorders in gay or bisexual men. Sexually transmitted diseases may also go undiagnosed because of a fear to get tested and risk of judgement.

These illnesses don’t only affect people who identify as gay, bisexual, or transgender, but they are a much bigger problem when appropriate healthcare is out of reach.

The Immorality Of Moral Beliefs

People have the right to form their own opinions and feel a certain way as it pertains to their religion or moral beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that people in the medical profession can bring those beliefs to work with them. No matter how one feels about different groups of people, as a healthcare provider, they have the moral obligation to heal the wounded, treat the sick, and do so in a way that is respectful, courteous, and empathetic.

A person shouldn’t have to let a cough turn into lung cancer because they love a certain way or identify in a way that is authentic to who they are deep down to their soul. Medical professionals shouldn’t be allowed to pass judgement as if they were God, even if their work gives them a God-complex.   

This Shouldn’t Need To Be Said!!

The fact that an article such as this needs to be written is a glaringly obvious sign that healthcare for the LGBTQ community is not where it should be. Doctors and other medical professionals shouldn’t have the right under any law to treat people as though they don’t deserve the level of care received by their heterosexual counterparts.

A change has got to come, and it can only be done from the inside of the system. Setting up specific medical centres tailored to the LGBTQ community is only one step in the right direction, and the way the system is now, the race is far but over.

No matter what your opinion on the intricacies of gender and sexual orientation, our LGBTQ fellow humans are just that, humans, deserving of their fundamental rights to healthcare.