The Irish Health Service Executive is to draw up new guidelines for hospitals on gay and lesbian relationships.

The plan is one of a number of recommendations made by a new report on LGBT health, which was launched yesterday.

The LGBT Health report also found particular health problems in the LGBT community, such as higher levels of drinking and smoking than in the general population.

Prejudice and discrimination were noted as health issues, which the report suggested could lead to increased risk of depression, substance misuse, self-harm and suicidal behaviour, particularly among younger, more vulnerable LGBT people.

Lesbian and bisexual women were found to have higher levels of heart disease and ovarian cancer but were less likely to use gynecological services.

Barriers in accessing reproductive services were also cited.

Gay and bisexual men were found to suffer homophobic abuse and stress while older LGBT people experience invisibility, isolation and a lack of recognition of partners as well as difficulties expressing bereavement.

Odhrán Allen, director of mental health strategy at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, welcomed the report, saying: “For the first time in Ireland we have a coherent and comprehensive report on the particular health needs of LGBT people as well as clear recommendations on how the HSE can address these needs.”

Laverne McGuinness, national director of primary, continuing and community Care in the HSE, said at the launch: “The report and guidelines challenge us as providers of health services to think and deliver services differently – both at an organisational level and at an individual level.

“We are challenged to engage with people in a manner based on assumptions of a diversity of sexual identities rather than assumptions of a heterosexual norm.

“We are encouraged to meet the needs of clients in a manner that achieves equality and values diversity. It also challenges us to develop a visible and effective response to the findings and recommendations of the report”, continued McGuinness.