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Leading psychiatrist says anti-LGBT rhetoric from politicians can contribute to suicide rates

Meka Beresford February 7, 2018
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US President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Israel's Prime Minister on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland, on January 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)


A leading psychiatrist has said that anti-LGBT rhetoric from politicians can contribute to suicide rates within the community.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Professor Dinesh Bhugra explained that being discriminated against based on your sexuality or gender identity “can contribute to suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm”.

Related: Anti-LGBT politician explains why he opposes his own gay brother’s rights

He said that often one of the biggest factors that lead to suicidal thoughts is a low sense of self-worth, which is not helped by a narrative that ignores and erases LGBTQ people.

The professor explained that there is “a very clear link between policy, social factors and psychiatric problems in LGBT groups”.

“Social causation [of suicide] is well linked with the state of the society and how people feel they fit in – or don’t.

“If there is no equity and one group is seen as inferior then it is inevitable that there will be problems in self-image and self-esteem and that may contribute to the feeling of worthlessness,” he said.

Related: Anti-LGBT politician says women are too ‘small, weak and unintelligent’ for equal pay

Bhugra said that there was “very clear evidence that common mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are higher in LGBT groups.

He cited a study in which they found that in places where equality was championed and anti-LGBT laws were less prevalent, the number of mental health cases among the LGBTQ community dropped.

“So it indicates that there are social causes at play which can cause psychiatric distress which can then lead to suicide,” the professor said.

He went on to call on politicians who do not consider themselves to hold anti-LGBTQ views to begin supporting LGBTQ causes.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Related: 10 times anti-LGBT people got savagely burned in 2017

“If you are not homophobic then you should be fighting for equality for everyone. You can’t say, ‘I’m not homophobic’ but somehow they should be treated differently.”

He added that it was misguided for people to deny that there are not any links between the poor mental health of some LGBTQ people and the oppression that they face.

Bhugra is not the first leading medical body to call out anti-LGBTQ politicians as the World Health Organisation stated that “discrimination can lead to the continued experience of stressful life events such as loss of freedom, rejection, stigmatization and violence that may evoke suicidal behaviour.”

A whole host of anti-LGBT world leaders are pushing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Malcom Turnbull (L) and Donald Trump (R) (Photo by The Pink Flamingos/Facebook)

A float in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade will take aim at ten particular leaders including Egypt, Uganda, Chechnya, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Australia, the US and more.

The Pink Flamingos have pinpointed ten political figureheads from across the globe that has marginalised the LGBTQ community and they will be chased along the Sydney-based parade by the mock pest control company, Bigots Begone. 

Dejay Toborek, a co-founder of the group, said that the Bigots Begone pest control were inspired to challenge political leaders through their art after witnessing the severe oppression that LGBTQ people have been facing recently.

Related: This 11-year-old’s anti-Trump cartoons are giving us life

He said: “We’ve watched bigotry play out in devastating ways, from gay concentration camps in Chechnya and Trump’s military ban to community arrests in Egypt, Indonesia, and Azerbaijan and gay propaganda laws in Russia.

“We also watched world leaders such as Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stand by as LGBTI citizens were harmed through their spineless and calculated failures to act.

“As our ’78ers demonstrated 40 years ago, we must call out these acts of institutional violence, hate, bigotry, and cowardice, and stand in solidarity with our community around the world.”

More: Dinesh Bhugra, LGBT, politicians, suicide

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