An approach respectful of sexual orientation and vital diversity
Last year, researchers and advocates projected the pandemic would block an already reduced sexual and reproductive health service. These projections included gender inequality with significant concerns about gender-based violence, family planning and access to much needed information.
What could not necessarily be quantified at the time was the isolation, stigma and harassment felt by the young LGBTI + community which suffered the impact of the shutdown of sexual health services throughout the year. pandemic as health systems focused on Covid-19 issues. LGBTI + people have found access to HIV-related services, hormone therapy and other gender-affirming care to be limited. These young people were made more vulnerable and were subsequently put at greater risk due to the lack of inclusive integrated services, limited gender identity services, little or no sexual health education. and the closure of formal and informal support networks.
According to the BeLonGTo Youth Services report, LGBTI + Life in Lockdown: 1 year later, 76% of sexually active LGBTI + young people did not have access to a sexual health check-up during Covid-19. The report states: “Our research revealed that there is limited knowledge that people can still access sexual health services and a lack of information about open sexual health services during the pandemic. This means that people do not have access to services when they urgently need them. “
The Covid-19 pandemic has left people struggling with the ability to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health.
Reopening these services and highlighting what amenities have been and continue to be available is an urgent concern, along with creating and maintaining a safe space for LGBTI + youth to care for. proactively addressing their sexual and reproductive health, including the necessary support and education. This includes decision makers who understand the diversity of gender identities, the complexity of sexual orientation, and the experiences of young people at a time that created significant barriers to the additional support needed.
“Safe spaces are spaces that need to be created and nurtured,” Patrick McElligott, gender and guidance support worker with GoshhOSHH (which stands for gender, orientation, sexual health and HIV), “and there are many different aspects that go into creating this, people, representation, language, information, comfort, openness , confidentiality and trust, being some of the important factors, while having inclusive and accessible language. Information on sexual health is accessible to those who seek it.
Sexual and reproductive health services are essential parts of a person’s life and require the support and understanding of professionals. This is inclusive of everyone and a comprehensive, holistic and integrative approach to health care for LBGTI + people includes pregnancy, family planning and abortion care, infertility services, assisted reproduction technologies , cancer screenings, intimate partner and gender violence support, and more, with education on accessing routine preventive screenings.
McElligott said: “While there are safe spaces across Ireland for people to access sexual health information, it takes trust on the part of the person to access this service. There are organizations like Goshh that provide this information for free to those who want to access it.
Protecting our sexual health encompasses not only our physical health, but also our mental and emotional well-being. This is a complex scenario that requires non-judgmental support and guidance from trained volunteers whom individuals can trust. clinics might not accept LGBTI + identities.
McElligott recognizes that parts of the LGBTI + community are under-represented in providing sexual health information, such as lesbians or intersex people. He says: “People of diverse genders often have to access information for a specific community, such as heterosexuals, and adapt it, sometimes at random, to their own practices or activities. This can lead to a feeling of not being welcome in the service.
“Often people are referred to a specific service if they are part of the LGBTI + community. Each service should be able to respond to an individual’s request for information regardless of gender or orientation. Information is often exclusive to people of diverse genders or backgrounds, leading to the lack of some vital knowledge for members of the LGBTI + community.
LGBTI + persecution
The negative effects of the pandemic have highlighted the worsening of existing inequalities as well as disparities, discrimination and persecution against LGBTI + people. “Stigma is still present in accessing sexual health information, testing, testing and treatment, which can prevent the sharing of vital information such as the U = U campaign,” says McElligott. “While there is information for heterosexuals on reproductive issues, there is a great lack of knowledge regarding LGBTI + people seeking information on reproductive rights, with much work needed to increase awareness of relationships and families with parents of the same genders or genders that are not heteronormative.
In its report, BeLonGTo recommended reopening sexual health clinics as a priority and focusing on reopening in-person services for young people in accordance with public health advice.
Goshh, whose vision is to create an environment where everyone’s mental, emotional, physical and social well-being is promoted and where sexual rights are respected, protected and fulfilled, offers a confidential helpline, rapid tests, advice and support. “Goshh supports people with information about their sexual health needs,” says McElligott. “We also offer rapid tests for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis C, with some results available within 60 seconds. We can also support people for STI screening if they are nervous. We offer training for professionals and organizations to improve their awareness of sexual health, and for individuals we also offer advice and support on these topics.
As part of their mission statement, after the pandemic, emphasis must be placed on promoting equality and well-being for all with a positive approach that respects sexual orientation and the diversity of people. gender, with a focus on our inclusive sexual and reproductive rights. health.
Post-pandemic sex series
Part 1: Behavior is not easy to predict
Part 2: Talk to your kids
Part 3: Get sexual health checks
Part 4: Sexual orientation and diversity