The Public Health Agency (PHA) will be joining the Belfast Pride celebrations in Custom House Square this Saturday (4 Aug), where information on health and wellbeing issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people in Northern Ireland will also be provided, along with free health checks for those in attendance.
Speaking about Pride 2012, Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Pride 2012 celebrations and, while joining in the party atmosphere, will be promoting healthier choices among this important group of people.
“We know that the LGBT community, like other disadvantaged groups, has a higher incidence of smoking and substance misuse, for example, which are likely to have a substantial, negative impact on their physical and mental health.
Recent research (1), funded by PHA and produced by Rainbow, has shown that:
- LGBT people are nearly three times more likely to have taken an illegal drug in their lifetime compared with the Northern Ireland population as a whole (62% compared with 22%).
- 91% of LGBT people drink alcohol compared with 74% of the Northern Ireland population and of those who drink, LGBT people are twice as likely to drink ‘daily’ or ‘most days’ compared with the Northern Ireland average (13% as opposed to 6%).
- 44% of LGBT people smoke cigarettes compared with 24% of the Northern Ireland population.
We also know that these groups experience considerable sexual, physical and mental health inequalities and that homophobia and hetrosexism are the main barriers LBG people face when accessing services (2).
“This is a great opportunity for the huge numbers celebrating Pride to get a basic health check and valuable advice and support, helping them to make positive lifestyle choices and improve their health and wellbeing”.
“We are really pleased that our staff will be at the stand and that some of the members of the LGBT Health and Social Care Staff Forum will also be participating in the parade.”
The PHA stand will be at the Belfast Pride Festival’s annual Pride Parade and Party in the Square, Custom House Square, on Saturday 4 August, from 11am to 4pm. Those at Pride 2012 can avail of health checks (funded by PHA and provided by Action Cancer), such as blood pressure, Body Mass Index and lung capacity (for smokers). They can also chat with PHA professionals to get advice relating to smoking, alcohol, substance misuse, mental health and how to make healthier choices.
For further information on health and social wellbeing improvement, visit the PHA website.
For further media information
Contact the Public Health Agency on 028 9055 3663
(1) Rooney E. All Partied Out? Belfast: The Rainbow Project, 2012. www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/all-partied-out
(2) Meads C, Pennant M, McManus J and Bayliss S. A systematic review of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health in the West Midlands region of the UK compared to published UK research. Birmingham, West Midlands Health Technology Assessment Group, University of Birmingham, 2009. http://www.rep.bham.ac.uk/2009/LGBT_health_03.04.09_final_version.pdf
Notes to the editor
- Belfast Pride 2012 festival will run from Saturday 28th July to Saturday 4th August (Parade Day).