Australia’s peak LGBTI health body has called on the Gillard Government to help address drug and alcohol issues in the LGBTI community following the release of research showing gay, lesbian and bisexual people smoke, drink alcohol and use illicit drugs more frequently than their heterosexual peers.

National LGBTI Health Alliance chair Paul Martin said the findings reinforce a need for a national approach to dealing with drug use in the LGBTI community.

“Increased use is likely a result of ‘minority stress’ caused by stigma, discrimination and social exclusion,” Martin said.

“While there are pockets of good work happening at a local level in LGBTI organisations, there is no national approach, limited sharing of strategies or collaboration between states and territories and little funding.

“The Alliance calls on the Department of Health and Ageing to support a national LGBTI alcohol, tobacco and other drug use strategic project, in partnership with LGBTI communities and the Alliance.”

According to the findings of the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 32.9 percent of homosexual or bisexual people smoke, compared with 17.6 percent of heterosexuals.

The number of GLB smokers sits third in the list of population groups, after Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and singles with dependent children.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study found 28.6 percent of homosexual or bisexual people drank at risky levels over their lifetime, compared with 20.3 percent of heterosexuals.

The study also found that 33.8 percent of homosexual or bisexual people recently used illicit drugs, compared to 14.1 percent of heterosexuals, with most using cannabis (26 percent) followed by ecstasy (10.8 percent).

Transgender and intersex people were not identified in the survey.

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