The Equality Act 2010 makes provision for ensuring LGBT+ people get services that meet our needs. Unfortunately more often than not the hard evidence required to establish local LGBT need is missing from the data that is usually relied upon. The census, GP returns and residents’ survey are simply not designed to capture our experiences.
That’s why, with funding from Trust for London, and recently from Public Health in Tower Hamlets, we have joined forces with one of the UK’s leading LGBT health experts, Dr Catherine Meads, and partners across the public sector to develop our own Rainbow Census. This is a major population study reaching across London, especially the east. We will shortly be launching it, in the meantime we are looking for volunteers and partners to help with dissemination.
We do not work in isolation. We work in partnership with other LGBT agencies, with disabled peoples’ organisations and with the wider third sector to drive transfer of expertise and good practice.
As a result of our work, Tower Hamlets have identified Sexual Orientation as a priority area for developing better information about needs.
We co-hosted a national conference of the older LGBT people’s housing network of which we are a member, and have mounted several consultations.
Often LGBT+ experiences are different. For example, when the borough was asked by NHS England to review its assessment of need regarding pharmacies, they realised there were no LGBT or disabled voices. They commissioned us to fill the gap. As a result of our efforts, for the first time ever LGBT needs were included in an assessment handed over to the NHS for use in contracting pharmacies.
We are currently working with the East London Pharmacy Association to develop a training programme.
- Just 15% of LGBT+ people questioned were open about themselves with a pharmacy they see regularly on medical matters.
- There are strong indications from interviews and free text responses that LGBT people travel away from their home to use pharmacies if they wish to reveal aspects of their identity.
- 61% of LGBT+ people who had lived with, or were now with, a partner (35% of entire sample) had not revealed the household to any pharmacist.
- 23% of LGBT+ people surveyed had direct experience of inappropriate responses to their sexual orientation or gender identity from pharmacy personnel. These are all in contravention of the Equality Act as it relates both to goods and services and to the public sector equality duty.
- 37.5% of LGBT+ respondents reported there were pharmacies near their home where they did not feel comfortable.
- 50% of all LGBT+ respondents had either experienced discrimination first hand or had formed an impression that a pharmacy near their home would not be welcoming to them.
- Many respondents identified explicitly that culture and faith played a large part in both trust issues and direct experience of prejudice.
A dedicated LGBT+ awareness programme for pharmacies would radically improve the likelihood that LGBT+ people will reveal themselves more fully to their pharmacist. It is also likely to improve take up of local services and address the poor responses to LGBT+ interactions experienced by 23% of respondents. The patterns of pharmacy usage described earlier suggests that there are numerous neutral interactions for toiletries or medications during which LGBT people may be visiting a local pharmacy. What they see or hear on that occasion will help them to re-evaluate the risk of being out.