The “inextricable” link between human rights and the health of LGBT people throughout the world was the lead topic of discussion Tuesday night at the annual LGBT Health Forum organized by George Washington University’s Graduate Program in LGBT Health Policy and Practice.
Close to 200 people turned out to listen and ask questions to a panel of experts on LGBT rights and public health and discuss the topic of “Global LGBT Health and Human Rights” at the university’s Morton Auditorium at 21st and H streets.
“Around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals face worse health outcomes than the general population,” said Stephen Forssell, founding director of the GW LGBT Health Policy and Practice graduate program in a welcoming statement to the gathering.
“Research reveals that disparities are due to social injustice and human rights violations – stigma, discrimination, denial of care, substandard care, a patient’s fear of seeking care, and, in some countries, discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, Forssell said in a written statement.
Among the experts speaking on the panel during the forum were Nils Daulaire, a physician and former Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides medical services for people with HIV in the U.S. and abroad; Julie Dorf, senior adviser to the Council for Global Equality and founder and former director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission; and Javier Vasquez, Human Rights Law Adviser for the Pan American Health Organization.
Also addressing the forum was Jack Andraka, a 16-year-old gay high school student in Maryland who, at age 15, developed a test shown to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer at an early stage. He told the forum that among his current priorities is to encourage LGBT youth to consider perusing an education and career in science related fields.
Dorf and Weinstein said their organizations have monitored and in some cases closely observed growing instances of anti-LGBT persecution in countries in Africa and other areas. Despite what appears to be a worsening outlook for LGBT people in many parts of the world, the two said they were optimistic that worldwide recognition of LGBT equality as a part of international human rights norms would soon play a role in ending anti-LGBT persecution in countries like Uganda, Russia and Jamaica.
A video of the LGBT Health Forum was expected to be posted on forum’s website.