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This briefing paper illustrates how Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for All at All Ages, is relevant to the specific health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. The paper highlights existing data pertinent to the health and well-being of LGBTI people across seven targets within this Goal, as well as relevant data gaps. The paper then makes a series of recommendations regarding what type of data and indicators Member States should report in order to effectively monitor progress on LGBTI health needs and ensure implementation of SDG 3 is truly universal and in line with the SDGs principle of “leave no one behind.”
Data regarding LGBTI health needs are inadequate and incomplete across the globe, but the data that is available suggest that LGBTI people’s health is consistently poorer than the general population. Discrimination, violence, criminalization, and social exclusion are the social determinants for poor health outcomes. While LGBTI people share common experiences of marginalization based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), many also face intersecting forms of discrimination based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, ability, class, socioeconomic status, migration status, and other factors that drive exclusion.
Of particular concern is the disproportionate burden of HIV among gay and bisexual men and transwomen, and across LGBTI populations: poor mental health, higher prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, and inadequate funding for effective interventions. In addition, health workers often lack technical capacity and sensitivity to effectively address the needs of LGBTI people, making access to needed services exceedingly difficult.
Collecting accurate and complete data disaggregated by SOGIESC will allow for the formation of evidence-based laws and policies that serve to promote and protect LGBTI people’s right to health. Community-based and LGBTI-led organizations are crucial in collecting these data. Community-based organizations are also best positioned to provide safe, non-judgmental health care to LGBTI people. Improving the health and well-being of LGBTI people must be grounded in human rights approaches that respect autonomy, bodily integrity, and self-determination. Laws, policies, and practices that directly or indirectly criminalize consensual same-sex behavior and self-determination of gender identity must be repealed to eliminate barriers to LGBTI people realizing their right to health.
Civil society, UN agencies, and Member States must work together to ensure accurate and comprehensive reporting on LGBTI health and well-being in development programming. This is necessary to fulfill State obligations to the principle of “leave no one behind” in Agenda 2030.
Published on July 2, 2017 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization