Celebrating Pride must go beyond the party and include advocating for our LGBTQ+ patients and colleagues

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This is a guest post by Marina Politis, a SIS volunteer

Whilst the Pride flag flying outside the hospital this month is heartening to walk by as I start my day, the waving of flags and celebratory parties must be accompanied by tangible action to advocate for LGBTQ+ colleagues and patients.

A pair of hands, with rainbow wristbands is showing a red crocheted heart to the screen

LGBTQ+ Health Inequalities 

Health inequalities that LGBTQ+ people face range from higher rates of mental illness, half of LGBT people having experienced depression in the last year, to inequalities in cancer detection, treatment and care. Importantly, not all health inequalities are about sexual or mental health, despite what our medical education may suggest – for example, there is increased asthma in lesbian women. Furthermore, discrimination is intersectional. BPOC experience over twice as much transphobia from trans-specific healthcare providers than white patients. Inequalities are also not inherently ‘due to’ being LGBTQ+, a notion that perpetuates pathologisation of LGBTQ+ identities, but due to systemic stigma and discrimination. 

While inequalities ought to ensure greater inclusivity of services, this is not the case. 13% of LGBT people have experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they are LGBT and 40% of trans people because of their gender identity, with 1 in 4 LGBT patients having heard healthcare staff make negative remarks about LGBT people. Given this, ultimately 1 in 7 avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination from staff

LGBTQ+ Healthcare professionals

Celebrating Pride and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights is not only crucial for our patients but also for our colleagues and peers. An alarming 70% have endured experiences just short of harassment or abuse related to their sexual orientation over the last two years, ranging from feeling unable to discuss their private lives to enduring homophobic name-calling. Additionally, 12% have faced outright harassment or abuse, including psychological and verbal attacks, threats, and social media harassment. Another 12% felt they had suffered from discrimination, such as receiving fewer opportunities than their colleagues or encountering problems with pastoral support. Despite these statistics, only a quarter of those who felt harassed or abused reported it, and only one-fifth of those who felt discriminated against took steps to resolve the issue. These figures highlight the pressing need to address discrimination within healthcare settings to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all.

Making Healthcare Welcoming & Accessible for LGBTQ+ Patient

Given the health inequalities that exist – health inequalities that are not inevitable but due to discriminatory views on who is most valued by a health system still predominantly ran by and for the archetypal cisgender, heterosexual white man, we must actively create a welcoming environment and demonstrate our commitment to non-discrimination so that patients feel safe and comfortable seeking the healthcare they need. Alongside a change in attitudes and education for staff, and moving away from our cis-heteronormative system, visible changes, such as posters, literature, and acknowledgment of gender-diverse identities, are crucial, with 62% of LGBTQ+ individuals expressing a desire for these enhancements in healthcare services.

Practical steps can also make our healthcare environments more inclusive and supportive. Simple actions, such as introducing ourselves with our pronouns or wearing a “Hello, my name is…” pronoun badge, can help patients comfortably express their identities. Pronouns are also not preferred, but simply someone’s chosen pronouns – LGBTQ+ youth whose pronouns are respected by all/most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those whose pronouns are not respected, emphasising how crucial this respect is. This emphasised how it is actions that are most important and it is crucial we use inclusive language, avoid assumptions about a patient’s sex, gender, or relationships, and educate ourselves and others about the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Becoming Effective Allies and Accomplices

To be an ally is a verb, not a noun, and a process, not a feeling. True allyship involves actively lifting up the queer community, particularly amplifying the voices of Black queer individuals, queer sex workers, and other groups which are most marginalised. It requires a commitment to learning, listening, and self-education. It is essential to recognise one’s own privilege, even within the LGBTQ+ community, and avoiding assumptions about others is crucial. Allies must confront their own prejudices and unconscious biases, educate themselves on both historical and current events, and call out and challenge discrimination whenever they encounter it. Additionally, if possible, allies should provide direct financial support to the most vulnerable members of the community, especially black and brown trans women.

Moving beyond allyship to become an accomplice involves taking even more deliberate and courageous actions. Accomplices actively listen rather than lead, ensuring marginalised voices are heard and respected. They don’t just support inclusive policies but also take concrete actions with and for marginalised individuals, even if it means facing personal or professional repercussions. Becoming an accomplice often requires stepping outside one’s comfort zone and making a conscious effort to enact meaningful change. Through these efforts, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for our LGBTQ+ patients and colleagues.


Celebrating Pride is not just about attending parades and parties; it is about advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, especially the most marginalised, recognising that there is no LGBTQ+ justice without racial justice and disability justice. In June and beyond, we must show up for the LGBTQ+ community and stand up for change in both our day-to- day actions, and in what we ask from policy and decision-makers. Pride is a protest and we must demand greater equality – in our healthcare system and beyond.