A need for increased research and action strategies focusing on gay and lesbian health prompted ACON president Adrian Lovney to call for the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Committee on gay and lesbian health.

Addressing the Health In Difference conference that was a part of last fortnight’s Gay Games Global Rights Conferences, Lovney asserted that high youth suicide rates, discrimination and poor access to health services were areas that need addressing for the gay and lesbian community.

Victoria already has a very successful committee established and obviously NSW’s large gay and lesbian population suggests that we have a very significant need for a similar government approach, Lovney told Sydney Star Observer.

There is just not enough research out there on what the specific health issues are for this community and what needs to be done. A committee would also demonstrate the government’s commitment to get these serious health issues on the agenda.

Lovney’s concerns were echoed in the address earlier in the week by Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps to the Amnesty International Global Human Rights Conference, where she released an AMA Position Statement on sexual diversity and health.

Poor health outcomes for homosexual people can take many forms such as results of violence and hate crimes, inequitable access to health care, and mental health problems, particularly stress and depression, which leads to higher rates of suicide, Phelps said.

Doctors have a significant role to play in promoting healthy attitudes to sexual and gender diversity.

Lovney told the Star ACON has already approached the NSW government about the establishment of the advisory committee.

We are still talking to them about the possibility of a committee and can say that [the government] certainly hasn’t said no to the idea at this stage, Lovney said.

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