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The Cost of Care: Addressing the Discrimination Faced by Older LGBTQI Individuals in Care Homes

April 18, 2019  · 2 min read

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York, an infamous two-day clash between New York’s LGBTQI population and the police, that has served as a catalyst for the modern day LGBTQI movement and paved the way for the acquisition of LBGTQI rights and policy changes across the world.

Despite the progress that has been made, many LGBTQI individuals who have fought for their rights now face the sad reality of having to retreat back into the closet in their later lives. In a recent Article published in the Scotsman, Scotland’s National Newspaper, the phenomenon of older individuals ‘de-gaying’ in order to avoid harassment and discrimination from staff and other residents in care homes is explored.

This phenomenon does not occur exclusively in care homes. Many older LGBTQI individuals have reported feeling the need to adapt their behaviours or environments (such as removing pictures of same sex partners from living spaces) in order to avoid discrimination from in home care staff.

The repression of sexual identity that many older LGBTQI individuals feel in these spaces can negatively affect them in a number of ways. Older LGBTQI individuals may be deterred from accessing services in order to avoid possible discrimination or the prospect of ‘de-gaying’, while those that do access these services may suffer emotionally as a result of this process.

At a broader level this reality also obscures and leads to unreliable population statistics regarding the older LGBTQI population and therefore obfuscates the attention they deserve. Many care homes in Scotland for example report having no LGBTQI residents, which, given other population statistics is highly improbable.

It is important to note that this phenomenon also transcends borders. In a previously published article by CBC News, older LGBTQI Canadians expressed the same fear and apprehension of being ‘out’ in long term care facilities. Many individuals articulated discriminatory interactions with health care professionals and staff. With almost a quarter of the global population projected to be over the age of 65 by the year 2024, the need to address this issue is of the upmost importance to ensure the rights of our ageing LGBTQI population are being protected. To learn more about the older LGBTQI population and ways in which individuals, organizations and governments can support and protect the rights of these individuals, contact IFA expert Professor Marie Beaulieu, a leading expert in elder abuse and the unique needs of the older LGBTQI population.

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