Lesbian and Bisexual Women's Health Report

Lesbian and bisexual women have specific health issues. Sexual orientation per se does not directly have any influence on cancer or any other disease. But double discrimination based on gender and on sexual orientation can have a significant impact on the mental and physical wellbeing, preventing also some women to seek assistance from health care providers.

The report contains a compendium of information ranging from health-specific topics, such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and breast and gynecological cancer, to addressing the political and social problems of curative rape and domestic violence.

If you wish to obtain a hard copy you can order it by sending an email to patriciacurzi@ilga.org and make a donation to cover the postal costs: http://www.ilga.org/donate.asp .

ILGA's Women's report is funded by NOVIB. The International Lesbian and Gay Association is also supported by HIVOS and IBM.

Introduction and Index: Lesbian and Bisexual Women's Health Report: Common Concerns, Local Issues

Lesbian and bisexual women’s health is a concern for many women worldwide, but the information available on the subject is not as widely spread as one would expect it to be. When, in June 2005, I issued a call for material on ILGA’s website and disseminated it to LGBT and women’s organizations, I did not imagine that I would receive such a response... Patricia Curzi, ILGA's Women's Project officer.

UN Human Rights Mechanisms: Putting Women’s Health on the Agenda

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But it was only on 17 May 1990, that the General Assembly of the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders...

- An interview with Special Rapporteur on Health, Paul Hunt
- United Nations Population Fund and their work on women’s health

Control over Women's Bodies

Some health issues are common to all women regardless of their sexual orientation. The desire to control women’s behaviour, especially their sexual behaviour, is unfortunately all too common in all four corners of the world...

- Rape as a form of control over women
- Women’s control over their sexual lives
- Forced marriage

Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS

...While concern for men’s health rose with worldwide attention to AIDS, the health needs of lesbian and bisexual women had little support and received no interest from the public...

- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence
- Material from local organizations

Breast and Gynecological Cancer

Research shows that lesbian and bisexual women do not regularly see a gynecologist. Most may feel that visiting one is relevant only in cases of contraception and motherhood. The fear of a lesbophobic reaction from health care providers...

- Getting the care you deserve
- A war against women
- Material from local organizations

Violence against Women

...Domestic violence within same sex couples, however, is a taboo. It can take many forms: physical violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse or social or financial control. The fear of stigmatisation from the heterosexual world...

- Taking same sex domestic violence seriously
- Material from local organizations

Mental Health

Many people still believe that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are “mentally ill”...We are all raised and live in a homophobic and heterosexist world. Some of us still have to cope with internalised lesbophobia and bi-phobia...

- The slippery nature of lesbian health
- Material from local organizations

Health Care Provision

Research carried out in many parts of the world demonstrates that lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people feel uncomfortable talking about their sexuality with health care providers, even when this is linked to their health...

- A survey conducted by ILGA-Europe
- The first broad research on the health of lesbian and bisexual women in Italy
- Material from local organizations

Sexual Pleasure

Women’s sexuality is a “recent” discovery of the 1960’s when the fight for women’s rights became more visible. But a lot still needs to be learnt as many women themselves still believe that they are not supposed to be interested in “this kind of thing"...

- Sexual education
- Women’s body and pleasure: a chancy encounter
- Material from local organizations


This section provides information about foundations that support and finance LGBT and womenrelated initiatives.

ILGA is a worldwide network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organisations working for human rights and against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
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