Thousands Die Each Year As A Result of Homophobia
[Saskatoon, Saskatchewan] - As many as 5,500 Canadians die premature deaths each year as a result of homophobia a new study shows.
The Institute for Social Research at the University of Saskatoon looked at five areas of health problems endemic to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) community, suicide, alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, smoking and depression.
The study was undertaken through Gay & Lesbian Health Services of Saskatoon (GLHS) and headed by Christopher Banks of Rochon Associated Human Resource Management Consulting Inc.
"This is an appalling statistic," said GLHS executive director Gens Hellquist, "especially in light of the fact that these deaths are largely preventable." Hellquist said that governments and health authorities are reluctant to provide resources to prevent these deaths. Other studies indicate the average life expectancy of gay men in Canada is approximately 55 years, similar to the life expectancy of all males in third world countries.
In 2001 GLHS released a study that looked at the economic impact of homophobia in Canada. That study indicated that homophobia costs Canada at least $8 billion a year in increased health care costs and loss of productivity. Both studies involved reviews of numerous studies on increased health and social issues in the GLBT community and compared those to studies on the economic impact of specific health issues such as suicide.
Over the past decade studies have documented alarmingly high rates of suicide, substance abuse, depression, low self-esteem, school drop-out, and unemployment in the GLBT community The studies are clear that these issues arise because of the stressors of living in a homophobic environment and a society that devalues the lives of GLBT people. Hellquist said.
The University of Saskatoon study said that because of inadequate research many factors could not be included in the two reports. Researchers have shown that homophobia is a major factor in gay men becoming infected with HIV but there is insufficient research to accurately calculated how many of those cases can be attributed to homophobia. "I think its safe to say that the 5,500 deaths each year from homophobia are only the tip of the iceberg," Hellquist said.
"If these health and social issues were taking place in any other population group in our society, governments would be tripping over themselves to provide resources to address the problems," said GLHS board co-chair Erin Scriven.
"However, because its taking place in the GLBT community no one seems to give a damn. Under the laws of this country were supposed to have equality but when it comes to our health-care issues we certainly do not experience equality," Scriven added.