Being an LGBTQ+ carer can make a difficult job even more challenging. The potential of being discriminated against can put people off seeking help, particularly if they care for a same-sex partner. Here are some helpful reminders that you are not alone and can access support, regardless of your sexual orientation.
What does LGBTQ+ mean?
LGBTQ+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning. These terms encompass all those who identify as existing outside of the binary of heterosexuality and/or CIS gender; essentially, those who are attracted to the same sex in any capacity and those who do not identify with their gender that they were assigned at birth.
The purpose of this acronym is essentially to unify these individuals and help to provide clarity and understanding about their identities.
What challenges do LGBTQ+ carers face?
Who you love or are attracted to may not seem relevant to consider when caring for a loved one. Indeed, it shouldn’t be. In an ideal world, we would not have to consider our sexual orientations as a limiting factor for anything.
However, carers within the LGBTQ+ community can often feel put off seeking support for fear of being discriminated against. In addition, if the person being cared-for’s family or friends aren’t aware of the romantic relationship between them and their carer, this can also lead to tensions.
The Marie Curie Report for The reality of end of life care for LGBT people stated:
“In 2008, the English End of Life Care Strategy Quality Impact Assessment noted that, in terms of access to quality palliative and end of life care, LGBT people were at the most risk of experiencing discrimination” (12)
Essentially, some of the main concerns and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ carers in terms of accessing support are:
- Fear of discrimination; Stonewall reports that “three in five older gay people are not confident that social care and support services will be able to understand and meet their needs” (3).
- The complexity of familial structures; often LGBTQ+ carers have chosen families, hence they may be worried that their support networks may be excluded by health and social care teams in favor of their biological family.
- Isolation; LGBTQ+ carers are more likely to be childless, unmarried, and potentially estranged from their families. This can increase the amount of pressure placed on them, as well as the feelings of loneliness that carers already come up against.
Many healthcare professionals adopt the attitude that someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity should not and does not play a role in how they are treated by healthcare staff. However, someone’s identity or sexual orientation should be accepted, not just tolerated.
Under the 2010 Equality Act: sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, and marriage or civil partnership are ‘protected characteristics’.
This means that LGBTQ+ carers are protected by law both in and out of the workplace against direct and indirect discrimination, unfavorable treatment, harassment, and victimization. Discrimination against any and all protected groups under this act is against the law.
Where to go to make a complaint or get advice
There are a few options available to you should you feel discriminated against. The best course of action largely depends on what you feel will remedy the situation. You could turn to:
- Citizen’s Advice.
- Stonewall– Campaigning and lobbying group.
- Law Centres– Free legal advice.
- Switchboard– LGBTQ+ helpline.
- Carers UK- Carer Support Organisation that actively supports LGBTQ+ carers.
- Bridgit Care– Carer Support Calls which can advice you on your options, or simply be a shoulder to cry on.
We are a pro-LGBTQ+ organisation and we are here for all LGBTQ+ carers- whatever they need support with.