The lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual and two-spirit (LGBTQIA2) communities in Canada experience numerous health inequities. That is why, between 28 February and 9 May 2019, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health undertook a study on the health of LGBTQIA2 communities and ways to reduce these health inequities. During this study, the Committee heard from 33 witnesses and received 44 briefs. The Committee also travelled to Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver where it met with organizations that provide health services to LGBTQIA2 communities.
Over the course of the study, the Committee learned that health inequities are experienced differently by each of the LGBTQIA2 communities, but in general, these communities are more likely than heterosexual Canadians to develop mental health disorders, have suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide. Witnesses told the Committee that lesbian and bisexual women are more likely than heterosexual women to suffer from chronic diseases such as arthritis and that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) are at greater risk of being diagnosed with anal cancer or infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) than their heterosexual counterparts.
In its report, the Committee notes that a number of factors contribute to the health inequities experienced by LGBTQIA2 communities, including discrimination and stigmatization. The Committee also emphasizes that health inequities among LGBTQIA2 communities are exacerbated when other identity factors and determinants of health— such as age, ethnic origin, income and access to health care—intersect with gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Committee’s report concludes by suggesting courses of action that could help reduce health inequities for LGBTQIA2 communities. The Committee recognizes that members of these communities know best how to improve their health and that they should be included in all related decision-making. The Committee recommends that the federal government include modules on gender and sexual diversity in training programs for health professionals and in sexual health education guidelines. The Committee further recommends that data collection be improved in order to obtain a more complete picture of the health of gender and sexual minorities in Canada; that gender and sexual minorities be consulted so that federal policies and programs include measures targeting these populations; and that funding for research on the health of LGBTQIA2 communities and funding for LGBTQIA2 organizations be improved.