Sexual orientation, gender identity and the right to health

Medical practitioners, health care workers, policy-makers, and educators often fail to talk about, or even consider, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex (LGBTI) people. Little or no thought is given to how the right to health of these individuals is being violated, or could be better protected. This invisibility, and associated isolation and marginalization, can have tragic consequences for the health and well-being of many members of LGBTI communities. This is an unacceptable affront to human dignity, particularly given the startling statistics that have been well known for many years: LGBTI people, especially LGBTI youth, are highly susceptible to poor health and health risks. Creating a society that is more accepting of diversity, including diversity in gender and sexual practices, is a task for both health professionals and human rights advocates. This book chapter addresses violations of the right to the highest attainable standard of health in relation to LGBTI persons, beginning with outlining the problems posed by heteronormativity, homophobia as a health hazard, and the failure to take into account LGBTI people in health policy setting. It then addresses the topic of protecting LGBTI persons and their right to health, including the protections offered by international human rights law (case law of the UN Treaty Bodies and the European Court of Human Rights), and the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
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