Plans are underway to establish a social group in Melbourne that will work to support LGBTI people with an intellectual disability.

The group was created by Central Bayside Community Health Services and will provide a space for its members to form a supportive social network.

Group organiser Peter Spyker said it’s important for sexuality and gender diverse people with an intellectual disability to have a network of friends with similar experiences.

“I believe it’s important for people with an intellectual disability to have their own group,” he told the Star Observer.

“For many people with an intellectual disability, it can be very challenging accessing events and activities in the broader community.

“Together, as a group, LGBTI people with an intellectual disability can develop a network of friends and support each other to access events, venues, and activities, like going out to a gay nightclub or bar, or going out in general.”

A recent study by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) found that 23 per cent of LGBT people are living with a disability in Australia, and report high levels of distress and anxiety.

To tackle this statistic, a forum on LGBTI people living with disabilities was held in Melbourne at the end of last year.

At the forum, gender and sexuality commissioner Rowena Allen said the conversation had been opened up between the government and the disability sector.

“We’ll get a full list of recommendations, work out what the priorities are, and then start tapping on doors until we get the funding,” Allen said.

Spyker said the new social group was inspired by a recent story on SBS Insight that focused on disability and sexuality.

“Part of the program was about a mum in Sydney who started a similar group for her son, because there was no group for him to access,” he said.

“I thought as an organisation we could be proactive and start a group, rather than leaving it up to a family member to start.”

Spyker also highlighted how important it is for LGBTI people to spend time with others who share similar experiences.

“The many gay-based sport and social groups in the broader gay community tell us that gay people want and enjoy spending time with their ‘own kind,’” he said.

“This is the same for LGBTI people with an intellectual disability.”

The new social group for LGBTI people with an intellectual disability will be launched on Monday 23 May. Find out more here.

 

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